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Motorcycle Accidents - Articles

Florida Jury Awards $26M to Auto Accident Victim

March 30, 2013

A veteran of the Iraq war was awarded a $26 million verdict this week after suffering permanent brain damage in a 2008 auto accident in Florida.

The suit was filed on behalf of 31-year-old Dustin Brink, who sustained injuries to his frontal and temporal lobes when his head hit the asphalt in Kissimmee, Florida, after a car struck his motorcycle.

The lawsuit, which was filed in 2010, claims that Brink lost all ability to perform many brain functions necessary for the routine activities of daily living.

The jury found Brink, who was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, to be 50 percent responsible for the injuries he suffered.

New Michigan Law Allows Bikers to Ride Without Helmets

April 15, 2012

A new law in Michigan will allow motorcyclists to ride without helmets for the first time in 50 years.

The bill was signed into law this week by Governor Rick Snyder.

The law now allows motorcyclists who are at least 21 years of age, have a minimum of $20,000 in medical coverage on their insurance policy, and have passed a safety course within the previous two years, to ride without a helmet.

The bill was opposed by insurance companies and health care providers, who argued that it would result in increased deaths and serious injuries, as well as increased insurance rates.

A police spokesman said it will be difficult for officers to enforce the law because motorcyclists who meet all of the conditions are not required to display any kind of special plate or sticker to indicate that they are allowed by law to ride without a helmet.

Motorcyclist Killed in Chicago Commuter Train Accident

March 02, 2012

A motorcyclist was killed early Friday morning in a collision with a Chicago-area commuter train, police said.

The crash occurred just before 1 a.m. in the Chicago suburb of Orland Park, Illinois, when Metra train 841 traveling outbound from Chicago struck the motorcyclist on the tracks.

Police are investigating whether warning signals at the rail crossing were not in operation or if the motorcycle operator, whose name has not been released, drove around the gates despite the flashing warning lights.

Passengers experienced an 80-minute delay before the train resumed its scheduled route.

Traffic Accident Deaths at 60-Year Low

December 09, 2011

The number of traffic accident deaths in the U.S. declined again in 2010, reaching a 60-year low, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Tuesday.

In 2010, 32,885 people died in crashes on the nation's roadways, despite the fact that U.S. drivers traveled almost 46 billion more miles last year - nearly 1.6 percent more - than they did in 2009.

Last year's traffic accident deaths were the lowest they've been since 1949, and the 2010 fatality rate was only 1.1 deaths per 100 million vehicle - the lowest fatality rate in recorded history.

U.S. traffic accident deaths hit an all-time high in 1972, when the total number of deaths climbed to 54,589.

Motocross Crash Blamed on Mechanical Failure

November 09, 2011

A crash that killed a motorcross racer while he was practicing a jump at Texas Motor Speedway has been blamed on mechanical failure, an official said.

The accident occurred while 32-year-old Jim "The Real Deal" McNeil was practicing a jump between two ramps at an exhibition hosted by Boost Mobile on Sunday.

A mechanical failure on his Yamaha YZ250 allegedly caused the 10:30 a.m. crash, in which McNeil did not have enough speed or distance to make the landing.

McNeil was pronounced dead at a local hospital less than one hour after crash. He was wearing a helmet and protective gear at the time of the accident.

Helmet Law Protester Killed in Motorcycle Crash

July 05, 2011

A New York man riding his motorcycle in protest of the state's helmet law was killed after he flew over his motorcycle's handlebars and hit his head on the asphalt, police officials said.

Philip Contos, 55, was participating in the 11th annual Helmet Protest Run when he crashed at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Onandaga.

The Onandaga County chapter of American Bikers Aimed Towards Education, which organized the protest ride, said Contos' death will not affect the organization's stance on helmet laws.

The cause of the crash is under investigation by state police.

Tort Reform Laws Passed in 18 States

June 22, 2011

Tort reform laws have been enacted in 18 states this year, most of which favor big business, a representative for the American Tort Reform Association said.

The new laws implement changes such as a limit on how class-action suits may be filed, a ban on liability for property owners when trespassers suffer injuries on their property and a ban on product liability lawsuits against sellers of defective products who were not responsible for the manufacture of the products.

The most drastic and wide-reaching legislation has been passed in states where Republicans gained power after last year's elections.

Republicans argue that tort reform laws can help businesses reduce costs and ultimately create more jobs.

Michigan Helmet Law Faces Repeal

April 05, 2011

Michigan's motorcycle helmet laws may be repealed this year if a bill introduced by newly-elected Republican officials is passed.

The state elected a Republican governor and Legislature, who are pushing a bill that would allow motorcycle riders over the age of 21 to ride without helmets.

The bill would require unhelmeted riders to carry at least $20,000 in insurance to pay for medical care in the event of an accident. However, adult riders who pass a motorcycle safety course would be exempt from the insurance requirement.

Opponents say the passage of the bill will result in increased motorcycle accident injuries and deaths.

$9 Million Settlement in Big Dig Death Suit

November 23, 2010

A $9 million settlement has been reached in a wrongful death case involving a state trooper who died after crashing his motorcycle into walkway handrails at Boston's Big Dig project.

The family of State Trooper Vincent Clia have settled with the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, AIG Insurance, and numerous other defendants responsible for ignoring a safety hazard that killed Clia and six other motorists.

In 1992, the U.S. Department of Transportation warned the director of the Big Dig project about safety concerns over the railings, which were designed to prevent workers on the project from falling into traffic. At roughly 3 feet tall, the same height as a motorcycle seat or passenger window, the railing posed a safety risk in the event of a crash.

The director ignored the DOT's recommendation that the rails undergo crash testing, insisting instead that they were safe.

Clia's family wants the handrails removed or redesigned to prevent future deaths.

5 Killed, 4 Injured in Possible Hit-and-Run Crash

November 15, 2010

Police are looking for the driver of a car that may have been responsible for a crash on Sunday that killed five people on a California highway.

According to witnesses, a gold Honda Accord attempted to pass seven motorcycles on Route 98 east of San Diego, forcing an oncoming Dodge Avenger to swerve into the other lane and collide with the motorcycles. The driver of the Accord left the scene of the accident.

Four of the motorcyclists and a passenger in the Dodge were killed. Five motorcycle riders were injured in the crash.

The California Highway Patrol arrested the driver of the Dodge for suspected drunk driving.

Survey: US Drivers Asleep Behind the Wheel

November 08, 2010

According to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey released on Monday, two out of five drivers say they have fallen asleep behind the wheel in the past year.

The survey of 2,000 U.S. residents over 16 years of age revealed that over 25% admitted having trouble staying awake while driving in the previous month alone.

The statistics are alarming, according to a AAA spokesperson, who said that drivers need to be aware of the dangers of driving while fatigued.

Fatigue can slow reaction times and impair a driver's judgment in the same way that drugs or alcohol can.

The survey was released to coincide with Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, which is sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics reveal that over 16.5 percent of deadly crashes each year involve a fatigued driver.

Motorcyclist Killed in Biketoberfest Crash

October 18, 2010

A woman was killed at the Biketoberfest motorcycle rally in Daytona Beach, Florida, on Saturday, after a driver turned in front of three motorcycles attending the event. All three motorcycles struck the vehicle, whose driver, 27-year-old Joshua Baldes, then fled the scene, officials said.

The woman killed, 22-year-old Grace Scullion, was four weeks pregnant.

The riders and passengers of the other two motorcycles were transported to a local hospital with minor injuries.

Baldes was apprehended a few minutes after fleeing the scene and charged with vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of an accident, and probation violation. Police believe he may have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.

Texting Bans do not Reduce Crashes, Study Says

September 28, 2010

A recent Highway Loss Data Institute study found that texting-related crashes were not reduced in states that passed laws banning texting while driving.

Rather, the texting bans are associated with an increase in the number of insurance claims filed for collision damage in vehicle crashes in the months after the laws were passed, according to statistics released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Virginia.

The HLDI study compared collision claim rates in the months before and after texting while driving was banned in California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington with the rates in nearby states without texting laws.

A previous study by HLDI uncovered similar results for bans on talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving.

The evidence may indicate that texting laws are ineffective and that other measures to cut down on texting while driving should be explored, according to HLDI president Adrian Lund.

NHTSA: Traffic Deaths at 60-Year Low

September 09, 2010

Although road travel is on the rise in the U.S., the number of traffic deaths and injuries in 2009 were the lowest on record since 1950, according to a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) report.

Fatality and injury data released this week by the Department of Transportation, show that there were 33,808 U.S. highway deaths in 2009 - down from 37,261 in 2008 - and the lowest on record since 1954.

The number of highway fatalities decreased for all classes of motor vehicles. Motorcycle fatalities also dropped for the first time in over a decade.

"At the Department of Transportation, we are laser-focused on our top priority: safety," U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood said at a press conference on Thursday. "Today's announcement shows that America's roads are the safest they've ever been. But they must be safer. And we will not rest until they are."

Four Motorcyclists Dead in Suspected Drunk Driving Crash

August 13, 2010

Four motorcyclists were killed in a suspected drunk driving crash in Iowa this week. The crash occurred only minutes after dispatchers received reports that a pickup truck was driving erratically and weaving in and out of traffic, police officials said.

According to news reports, the motorcyclists were on their way home after attending the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., when they were struck by a pickup truck being driven by 21-year-old Andrew D. Schlichtemeier.

The four motorcyclists who were killed have been identified as 62-year-old Dennis Chaney, 49-year-old Dale Aspedon, 62-year-old Steven Benscoter and 48-year-old Jay Bock.

Schlichtemeier suffered only minor injuries in the accident. He is under investigation by Iowa State Patrol for suspected drunk driving and may face four charges of vehicular homicide pending the outcome of the investigation.

Schlichtemeier submitted to a blood test for alcohol content before being discharged from the hospital. The results of that test have yet to be released.

Police Officer Charged With Drunk Driving in Fatal Crash

August 13, 2010

A police officer in Indiana was charged with drunk driving on Wednesday after the squad car he was driving crashed into two motorcycles, killing one motorcyclist and seriously injuring two others.

According to police officials, Officer David Bisard's blood-alcohol content was 0.19 almost two hours after Friday's crash, which is more than double the legal limit of 0.08. Witnesses to the incident said Bisard's police cruiser was traveling at least 65 mph, and he was weaving in and out of traffic.

Killed in the crash was 30-year-old Eric Wells. Two other victims, Mary Mills and Kurt Weekly, were seriously injured. Another motorcyclist at the scene said that although Bisard did not appear to be intoxicated, some of his statements sounded "strange."

Eric Wells' father said that the family was "numbed." "You just never dream of a law enforcement officer who is sworn to protect the public being behind the wheel of a police cruiser at a high rate of speed, drunk," he said.

Bisard is facing seven felony charges and may receive up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Judges Want Jurors to Log Offline

April 27, 2010

When a curious juror used Google and looked up information about a Fulton County rape case last month, a seemingly innocent misstep resulted in a mistrial.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Constance Russell fined the juror $500 for violating jury instructions. She had warned jurors at the outset not to perform independent research about the case.

"The process is so important, and the integrity is so important --- that is the reason for those instructions," said the defense attorney who represented Damond McCord, the defendant. "When a juror violates those instructions, it really kind of throws a monkey wrench into the entire system."

Across the nation, courts are struggling to catch up with and reign in the runaway use of new media. Georgia judges are mulling a modification to jury instructions that would specifically warn jurors not to use Web sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google. A committee of judges is revising the wording for proposed changes, which will be discussed at an upcoming meeting in July, according to Fulton County Superior Court Judge Melvin Westmoreland, head of the state Council of Superior Court Judges.

The changes probably will be implemented at one of the council's next meetings in July or January, Westmoreland said.

Earlier this year, federal courts led the way on the issue by adopting a set of so-called "Twitter instructions" for district judges to deter jurors' use of electronic devices or media. The instructions are to be read to jurors at the start of trial and before deliberations. They also warn against visits to any Internet chat room, blog or Web site such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube or Twitter.

"Such use has resulted in mistrials, exclusion of jurors and imposition of fines," according to a memo to federal judges from the committee chief, U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson of Topeka, Kan.

The Indiana Supreme Court last month banned laptops, cellphones and other electronic devices from the courtroom and jury room.

Superior Court Judge David Barrett of the Enotah Judicial Circuit in North Georgia heads the judges committee that is crafting new instructions for Georgia. Banning electronic devices from the courtroom or jury room does not address the equally precarious problem of jurors doing research at home, Barrett said.

Georgia's instructions will borrow from federal court instructions as well as other state courts such as Oregon. They will contain prohibitions against communicating about the case on social networking Web sites such as Twitter or Facebook. They will discourage the jury from using search engines such as Yahoo or Google for independent research.

"Most of us judges have been giving charges to the jury not to talk to anybody, including other jurors, about the case," Barrett said. "What this does is merely bulk that up to be more explicit as it applies to other means of electronic media."

Jurors who perform independent research have their opinions colored by information that prosecutors and defense attorneys are unable to refute. Therein lies the problem, said a lawyer, legal affairs writer and longtime member of the American Bar Association's American Jury Commission.

A curious juror easily could dig up a defendant's criminal history or discover evidence that was excluded from trial because it was illegally obtained. Jurors also could use the Internet to look up a confusing legal term and wind up with misinformation. Any of those actions would prevent the defendant from having a fair trial.

He said jurors will listen and obey if courts can do a better job explaining why independent research is harmful.

"Jurors want to do the right thing," he said. "The key is it needs to be simple enough for jurors to understand why you shouldn't do this."

Motorcycle Deaths Down 10 Percent in 2009

April 22, 2010

The number of people killed in U.S. motorcycle crashes dropped 10 percent in 2009 after 11 years of steady increases, a study released Thursday said.

Dr. James Hedlund of Highway Safety North, who prepared the report for the Governors Highway Safety Association, said a number of factors contributed to the drop, including the recession and increased enforcement of helmet laws and other motorcycle regulations.

"Clearly the economy played a large role in motorcycle deaths declining in 2009," said GHSA Chairman Vernon Petkey. "Less disposable income translates into fewer leisure riders, and we suspect that the trend of inexperienced baby boomers buying bikes may have subsided."

Hedlund said some states only had data for the first nine months of 2009. But he said projections suggest motorcycle fatalities will be down in at least three quarters of the states and at least 10 percent overall.

In some states, the decline has been dramatic. Based on data through September, deaths will be down at least 29 percent in California.

Betkey cautioned motorcycle deaths have dropped in the past, only to increase. He urged states to enforce laws on helmet use, driving while impaired and speeding and to provide motorcycle training.

GHSA projected motorcycle fatalities declined from 5,290 in 2008 to 4,762 or less in 2009, based on data from the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

States go After Texting Drivers

January 25, 2010

The fight against distracted driving may be at a tipping point as 23 states debate legislation to ban texting while driving, a practice 19 states already prohibit.

"Legislators are looking to see if it (texting) is enough of a safety issue that they need to intervene," says Anne Teigen, a transportation specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures, who says 194 bills concerning various forms of distracted driving, including texting, are being debated in 34 states. "They often get involved because there's a high-profile accident that had to do with texting. Also, because everybody has a cellphone now."

Justin McNaull, auto club AAA's director of state relations, says he expects "a dozen or more" new texting bans to pass this year. "There's clear public disapproval of the behavior, and there's strong public support for a law," he says.

Wisconsin state Rep. Peter Barca says he got interested "primarily just from hearing from constituents within my district and then seeing news accounts of the dangers of this." Barca, a Democrat, says that last year he could get support only for banning texting for drivers under 18. Last week, a ban for all drivers passed the state Assembly 89-6. Gov. Jim Doyle is expected to sign it, Barca says.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined the National Safety Council to announce the launch of FocusDriven, a national non-profit organization modeled after Mothers Against Drunk Driving to combat distracted driving.

"I'm kind of at a loss as to why every state doesn't have a no-texting law," says Jennifer Smith, president of the new group. "That's a no-brainer."

The Department of Transportation says 5,870 people -- 16% of all highway fatalities -- died in distracted-driving crashes and 515,000 were injured in 2008.

Smith's mother, Linda Doyle, 61, was killed in 2008 in Oklahoma City by a driver who was using a phone, Smith says. "He admitted he was on the phone and never saw the light," she says.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has introduced federal legislation to ban texting or e-mailing while driving. States that didn't go along would risk losing 25% of their federal highway funds.

Arizona Dust Storm Causes Deadly Pile-Up

December 23, 2009

A sudden dust storm south of Phoenix blinded drivers Tuesday morning on Interstate 10, setting off a chain of collisions that killed three people, police said.

The pileups involved nine tractor-trailers and 13 cars and sport utility vehicles, The Arizona Republic reported. At least five people were evacuated by air to hospitals.

I-10 eastbound in Casa Grande was expected to be closed all day. The westbound highway was closed off and on because of poor visibility.

Two of the dead were local teenagers, Mark Eide, 17, and his sister, Katie, 14. Police said their SUV burst into flames after being struck by a tractor-trailer.

Edgar Ivan Medina-Vargas of Iowa City was also killed. His pickup truck was hit by a truck driven by his father, who was following him, and then struck by two semis.

Leslie Wanek, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said gusty winds like those Tuesday can cause sudden changes in visibility, cutting abruptly it from 40 miles to less than a mile.

Harold Sanders, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said drivers who see dust storms ahead of them should immediately get off the road.

New Safety Standards Manual Released

December 16, 2009

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices -- the U.S road safety standards bible -- got its first update since 2003, Transportation chief Ray LaHood said.

"Safety is this department's top priority," LaHood said Wednesday in a release. "These new and updated standards will help make our nation's roads and bridges safer for drivers, construction workers and pedestrians alike."

The manual is the standard for all traffic control devices, including traffic signs, pavement markings, signals and other devices used to regulate, warn or guide traffic, LaHood said. Uniformity in all aspects of signage and signals helps reduce crashes and traffic congestion, he said.

The 2009 manual features new and updated requirements, ranging from changes in highway signs and bike lanes to the color of high-visibility garments worn by road workers.

While most changes came from research, LaHood said, seven changes were recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board, representing the largest number of NTSB recommendations adopted at one time.

The new provisions include:

-- Replacing highway signs with brighter, larger and more legible ones that are easier to understand at freeway speeds.

-- Adding different lane markings for lanes not continuing beyond an intersection or interchange to give drivers more warning that they need to switch lanes if they don't intend to turn.

-- Changing the formula used to calculate crosswalk times to give walkers more time.

-- Identifying electronic toll collection lanes with purple signs -- the first time purple has been sanctioned for use on highway signs.

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