Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accidents

Alcohol-related Oregon fatal car accidents and holiday weekends seem to have a grim connection. As the Daily Astorian notes, Memorial Day has long been the holiday weekend in Oregon most closely associated with alcohol-related fatalities. This year is no exception. According to the newspaper an Oregon drunk driver strayed over the center line of Highway 30 just east of Astoria Sunday night, striking a motorcyclist nearly head-on.

The motorcycle rider, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown from his bike and killed. Both the alleged drunk driver and his 13-year old daughter who was riding in the truck with him were uninjured. The Oregonian, quoting Oregon State Police, reported that the truck driver was arrested and charged with drunk driving, reckless driving, manslaughter and recklessly endangering another person (this is presumably a reference to the child in the truck).

Unmentioned by the media, but also worth considering as we think through the legal implications of this tragic Oregon fatal motorcycle accident, is where the alleged driver obtained his alcohol. If a bartender continued to serve the suspect or a store clerk sold him alcohol after he was obviously drunk that person too could be subject to legal action.

Traffic was backed up for miles on Interstate 5 on Friday following an Oregon traffic accident involving several motorcycles. The riders belong to the Brother Speed outlaw motorcycle club.

The Oregon motorcycle accident happened as approximately 26 riders, traveling in the left lane and following a car, were forced to slow down because traffic ahead had slowed down. Unfortunately, several of the motorcycles collided with one another, causing a pileup on the road. A vehicle in one of the lanes also hit one of the motorcycles.

Two riders sustained critical injuries. They were flown to Portland hospitals. Seven other traffic crash victims were driven to hospitals for hip injuries, shoulder injuries, and broken bones.

With so many vehicles involved, it can be difficult to determine who was liable for causing the Oregon motorcycle collision without the help of an experienced Oregon personal injury lawyer.

Getting thrown off a motorcycle can lead to serious injuries and the rider’s helmet and protective gear are often not enough to prevent serious injury or death. Hospital expenses and rehabilitation costs for motorcycle injuries can start to add up, and a Portland, Oregon motorcycle accident lawyer can make sure that you receive your financial recovery.

Motorcycle accidents can result in broken bones, burn injuries, paralysis, other spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and wrongful death.

Protective steps motorcyclists can take to avoid getting involved in traffic accidents with other motorcycles or vehicles:

• Watch out for possible hazards.
• Make sure you are visible to other drivers and riders.
• Make sure that you can see the other vehicles and pedestrians around you.
• Make sure that there is enough stopping distance between you and other vehicles. This will vary depending on how fast you are going.
• Always pay attention to the vehicles in front of and around you.
• Pass other vehicles carefully.

26 Brother Speed motorcycles crash on I-5; traffic back, Oregon Live, September 18, 2009
Multiple motorcycle accident closes I-5, Newberg Graphic, September 18, 2009
Related Web Resources:
The Hurt Report

Motorcycle Safety Foundation

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reporting that there were 416 Oregon traffic deaths. This fatality figure is slightly lower than the 455 Oregon traffic deaths that occurred in 2007.

More 2008 Oregon Traffic Facts:
• 290 passenger vehicle occupant deaths
• 91 of the victims were unrestrained
• Alcohol was a factor in 136 traffic deaths
• 128 speeding-related deaths
• 48 Oregon motorcycle deaths
• 51 Oregon pedestrian deaths
Nationally, there was also a decline in US traffic fatalities, with 37,261 deaths last year compared to 41,259 traffic deaths that occurred in 2007.

More 2008 US Traffic Accident Facts:
• 11,733 drunk driver-related deaths
• 716 pedalcyclist deaths
• 4,378 pedestrian fatalities
• 5,290 motorcycle deaths
• 677 large truck fatalities
• 25,351 passenger vehicle deaths
• 2,346 traffic injuries
• 2,072,000 people injured in passenger vehicles
• 23,000 large truck deaths
• 96,000 motorcycle injuries
• 69,000 pedestrian injuries
• 52,000 pedalcyclist injuries (compared to 43,000 injuries the year before)

While there was a decline most kinds of traffic fatalities between 2008 and 2007, there was an increase in motorcycle fatalities—from 5,174 deaths in 2007—and pedalcyclist fatalities—from 701 deaths.

Common causes of 2008 Oregon motor vehicle crashes included:
• Drunk driving
• Drowsy driving
• Speeding
• Cell phone use
• Text messaging
• Driver inexperience
• Poor road conditions
• Defective autos
While the overall declines in Oregon and US traffic deaths are positive, there is always more that can be done to decrease the number of injuries and deaths that occur in the state and throughout the United States. One way to decrease the number of Oregon car crashes is for drivers and truckers and motorcyclists to drive responsibly and refrain from negligent conduct. Motorist negligence can be grounds for a Portland, Oregon personal injury claim.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood: Overall Traffic Fatalities Reach Record Low, NHTSA, July 2, 2009
2008 Traffic Safety Annual Assessment – Highlights, June 2009 (PDF)

Related Web Resources:
State Traffic Safety Information for Year 2008

Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the First Quarter of 2009, June 2009 (PDF)

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The month of May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness month. Throughout the US, federal, state, and local law enforcement and safety officials are banning together to remind the drivers of cars, trucks, and buses that they share the road with motorcyclists so that they can take precautions to prevent motorcycle accidents from happening.

Staying aware that there are motorcycles on the road is especially important during this time of year. As spring turns to summer and the weather gets warmer, more riders will be donning their helmets as they get on roads and highways in Portland, the rest of Oregon, and elsewhere in the United States. 51 motorcycle riders died in Oregon in 2007, which is a definite increase from the 44 Oregon motorcycle deaths in 2006 and the state’s 48 motorcycle fatalities in 2005.

There’s no getting around the fact that not having a vehicle around their bodies to protect them when they are on the road places motorcycle riders at high risk of sustaining catastrophic injuries any time they are in an Oregon traffic crash.

Late last month, a motorcycle rider’s leg was severed in an Oregon traffic accident with a motor vehicle that occurred near Fair Oaks. The driver of the Toyota involved in the auto crash was later arrested and charged with hit and run, driving while suspended, and reckless driving.

To mark Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, the Oregon Department of Transportation and Governor Ted Kulongoski are offering motorists a number of suggestions for how they can help keep motorcyclists safe on Oregon roads, including:

• Check your mirrors and blind spots when leaving or entering a lane or an intersection to see whether there are motorcycles in the vicinity.

• Don’t try to share a lane while riding next to a motorcycle.

• Remember to signal any time you merge into traffic or switch lanes.

• Make sure that you allow 3 to 4 seconds more following distance when you are riding behind a motorcycle so that the rider has space to move or stop during an emergency.

• Never tailgate a motorcycle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Oregon Department of Transportation, and other federal, state, and local safety and transportation agencies want people to remember to share the road safely not just with motorcyclists but with the drivers of other motor vehicles as well as pedestrians.

Personal injuries and wrongful deaths can result when negligent driving leads to Portland, Oregon, motorcycle accidents.

Governor proclaims Motorcycle Safety Month, Oregon.gov, April 29, 2009
Hit-and-run crash severs man’s leg, NRToday.com, April 27, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Motorcycle Safety Awareness, NHTSA
Motorcycle Safety Foundation

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A number of recent, unrelated Oregon motor vehicle accidents have resulted in catastrophic injuries and deaths. On Sunday, a 62-year-old Roseburg motorcyclist’s leg became severed below the knee when he became involved in a hit and run accident near Fair Oaks.

On Monday, police arrested Oakland resident Billy Whitehead for felony hit and run, driving while suspended, and reckless driving. Motorcyclist John R. Granholm sustained his catastrophic injuries when his motorcycle and Whitehead’s Toyota Corolla collided. Granholm flew off his bike, crashed into the car windshield, and landed on the pavement. As of yesterday morning, Granholm, who was admitted to Oregon Health & Science University Hospital in Portland, was listed in critical condition.

Near Sandy, an Eagle Creek mother and daughter were killed on Saturday in a motor vehicle collision on Highway 26. Oregon State Police say 42-year-old Pamela Benson and 11-year-old Clarice Marie Benson were pronounced dead at the Oregon crash site.

Preliminary evidence indicates that Benson’s Toyota Corolla was struck on the driver’s side by a 1987 Toyota R Runner. Boring and Sandy fire department workers had to extricate the SUV driver, 18-year-old Estacada resident Daniel Ingle, from his vehicle.

Last week, a 40-year-old Grants Pass man died on Monday after he was hit by at least one motor vehicle on Interstate 5 close to Merlin. Police are investigating the Oregon pedestrian death.

If you were involved in an Oregon traffic accident with an insured motorist, an injured driver, a drunk driver, a hit and run driver, a distracted driver who was talking on his cell phone or text messaging, or any other kind of negligent driver, you should contact an experienced Portland car accident attorney today. Having an Oregon personal injury law firm that is on your side can make a huge difference in terms of how much financially recovery you can obtain from all liable parties.

Hit-and-run deaths near Merlin spur OSP probe, Mail Tribune, April 28, 2009
Hit-and-run crash severs man’s leg, NRToday.com, April 27, 2009
Identities released in Sandy double-fatal accident, Oregon Live, April 26, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Oregon Department of Transportation

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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The Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (OBPAC) has written a letter to the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) calling on it to push for a ban on cell phone use while driving and increase its efforts to notify the public about the dangers of distracted driving. The OBPAC not only wants the OTC to support the National Safety Council’s call that all cell phone while operating a motor vehicle be barred, but it wants details about the hazards of distracted driving to be added to Oregon’s DMV manual.

Oregon doesn’t have any laws regarding adults and cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle. The state, however, does currently ban drivers younger than 18 from text messaging or talking on a cell phone while driving.

Next week, the House Transportation Committee will hear House Bill 2377, which bans the use of “mobile communication devices” when people are driving their motor vehicles. The bill makes talking or texting on a cell phone illegal—albeit only a secondary offense, which means an Oregon police officer has to catch the offender committing another offense first. However, the law doesn’t apply to hands-free devices.

According to a 2006 University of Utah study, people who talk on cell phones while driving exhibit behavior similar to that of motorists who are drunk driving. Among the study’s findings:

• Hands-free and handheld held cell phones impair driving to an equal degree.
• Drivers who talk on cell phones tend to drive slower and step on the brakes slower than drivers who aren’t using cell phones.
• Motorists who talked on cell phones while driving exhibited 24% more variation in following distance and were 19% slower when it came to accelerating back to normal speed after braking than drivers who weren’t talking on cell phones.
• Drunk drivers tended to drive slowly but more aggressively than sober drivers. They were also slower to brake and did so with 23% more force.

If you were injured in an Oregon car accident because another motorist was driving drunk, talking or texting on a cell phone, fell asleep behind the wheel, or was impaired, distracted, or negligent in any other way, you may have grounds for filing an Oregon personal injury lawsuit.

Oregon bike/ped committee urges state to ban cell phones while driving, BikePortland.org, April 17, 2009
Drivers on Cell Phones are as bad as drunks, U News Center, June 29, 2006
Related Web Resources:
Oregon Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Oregon.gov
National Safety Council

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In Oregon, lawmakers are considering revising the current state drunk driving laws so that they include all substances that could impair someone’s ability to safely drive a motor vehicle. The current Oregon DUI laws cover alcohol and controlled drugs. A person apprehended or who causes an Oregon motor vehicle accident because he or she was abusing medication or overmedicated, however, cannot currently be prosecuted for drunk driving because state law regarding driving under the influence of intoxicants does not define these substances as intoxicants.

Those who oppose changing the law, however, say adding prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs to the list of intoxicants under Oregon’s drunk driving laws would place motorists who actually need to take the medication for their health at a huge disadvantage.

Impaired Driving Caused by Medication
Catastrophic Oregon motor vehicle crashes have been known to occur because a motorist was under the influence of strong medication. For example, one teen driver drank two bottles of Robitussin cough medicine right before becoming involved in an Oregon rollover accident. Although Portland police charged him with Oregon DUI, the criminal charge was eventually dropped.

Medication and Driving
Medication, depending on the kind of drug and the dose taken, can lead to drowsiness, dizziness, difficulties focusing, nausea, vision difficulties, delayed reflexes, and unconsciousness. These are not the kind of side effects you want to have when operating a motor vehicle anywhere in the United States.

While many medications are prescribed by doctors to maintain a patient’s health, especially someone who is suffering from depression, heart problems, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure, schizophrenia, and other conditions, it is the responsibility of the person taking the drugs to make sure that he or she doesn’t drive while under the influence of such medicines.

Any kind of impaired driving is dangerous driving. Too many lives are lost every day in drunk driving accidents because someone was driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication.

Oregon ponders new drunken driving law, SeattlePINews.com, March 9, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Impaired Driving, CDC
Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants, Oregon State Legslature

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This week, the National Safety Council (NSC) issued a call for a US-wide ban that would prohibit motorists from using cell phones while driving. The consumer safety organization says it will lobby all 50 US states and Washington DC to implement laws that ban the use of both hand-held and hand-free cell phones and text messaging whenever a driver is behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

The NSC says that there is now clear scientific evidence to show that use of a cellular phone while driving increases the risks of the driver becoming involved in a motor vehicle crash. According to the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis:

• 6% of traffic accidents (636,000 motor vehicle collisions) that occur each year happen because someone was using a cell phone.
• 330,000 people were injured in these accidents.
• 12,000 of the injuries were serious.
• 2,600 people died in auto collisions that involved cell phone use.

According to researchers at the University of Utah, over 100 million people talk or text message on cell phones when driving. Dr. Gavin Melmed of Baylor University Medical Center in Waco, Texas agrees that legislation, more education, and enforcement are needed to get people to see how cell phone use, like driving without a seatbelt and drunk driving, is unacceptable behavior while operating a vehicle.

While certain US states have a ban on handheld cell phones, no state has completely banned the use of all cell phones while driving. Oregon law bans drivers younger than 18 from talking or text messaging on a cell phone while driving. However, in order to be cited for violating this law, the use of the cell phone must be a secondary offense. This means the young or novice driver had to have violated another law by, for example, speeding or drunk driving. Oregon police officers say that enforcing this law has proven challenging. As of January 8, there were no records of citations in Portland, Eugene, Pendleton, and Bend.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says drivers who use cell phones when operating their vehicles quadruple their chances of becoming involved in a motor vehicle crash. Cell phone use while driving is a form of driver inattention.

National Safety Council Calls for Nationwide Ban on Cell Phone Use While Driving, NSC.org, January 12, 2009
Ore. teen drivers not cited, year after cell-phone ban, KTVZ, January 8, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Cellphones and Driving, Insurance Information Institute
Cell Phone Driving Laws, Governors Highway Safety Association

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As part of its push to keep motorists and pedestrians safe over the holiday season, the Oregon State Police is increasing its DUI enforcement efforts. Their actions are part of a 20-day national crackdown on drunk drivers and runs from December 13 though the New Year. State and local police will also be on high alert for Oregon DUI drivers beginning 6pm on Christmas Eve through Sunday at midnight.

Oregon Governor Kulongoski, who declared December “Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness” month, has reminded drivers that driving with a buzz is driving while impaired—a leading cause of motor vehicle fatalities in the state. Last year, 18 people died in Oregon drunk driving accidents over the holiday season.

Meantime, a recent national study confirms that the number of fatalities due to drunk drivers increases around Christmas and New Year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that from 2002 – 2006, alcohol was a factor in 4 out of 10 motor vehicle deaths that occurred during the last two weeks of December. Also, drivers 21 – 24 years of age are more likely to be involved in a deadly alcohol-related motor vehicle accident than other motorists.

The Oregon Department of Transportation Safety Division’s Impaired Driving Program Manager Gretchen McKenzie has a number of suggestions for how drivers can keep themselves and others safe this holiday season:

• Don’t drive if you’ve had anything to drink.
• Make sure that there is a designated driver.
• Don’t let anyone who has been drinking get behind the wheel of the car.
• Consider taxis, public transportation, or a car service as alternative modes of transportation.
• Make sure you and your passengers are wearing seat belts.
• Call 911 if you see a drunk driver on the road.

Of course, it is important that motorists drive sober throughout the year. Last year, the NHTSA says 12,998 people died in alcohol-impaired auto crashes in the US.

Anyone who drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs is breaking the law and may be charged for Oregon DUI crimes. Victims injured by a DUI driver may also have grounds to file an Oregon personal injury claim for damages.

Governor proclaims December “Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness” month, Oregon.gov, December 1, 2008
State police beef up drunk-driver patrols, The Register-Guard, December 23, 2008
Related Web Resources:

Alcohol Impaired Driving 2007 Traffic Safety Facts
, NHTSA (PDF)

DUI Laws in Oregon, United States DUI Laws, DUI Driving Laws

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In Oregon, a Portland motorcyclist lost his leg in a motor vehicle crash with an alleged drunken driver. The accident occurred on Monday morning when Robert Schlick, a barber, was riding his Harley motorcycle to work.

According to Portland police, a 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee was driving erratically on Scholls Ferry Road when he turned a corner and moved into the oncoming lane. Schlick laid his motorcycle on the road to try and avoid being struck by the Jeep, but the impact of the motor vehicle crash left him with a shattered leg. Doctors say that Schlick may be able to use a prosthetic. Police are waiting for toxicology test results to determine whether the driver of the Jeep, 22-year-old Portland resident Paul Conklin, was driving under the influence of alcohol.

This would not be Conklin’s first arrest for drunk driving. In 2007, he pleaded no contest to DUI and underwent alcohol treatment.

Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcyclists are prone to serious injuries any time they are involved in a motor vehicle crash. Motorcycle riders only have their safety gear to protect them from the impact of colliding with a car, a truck, a bus, or a fixed object, such as a wall, a tree, or a concrete barrier.

Serious injuries in a motorcycle crash can include severed limbs, crushed bones, internal injuries, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries.

2007 NHTSA Motorcycle Accident Statistics

• 103,000 motorcyclists were injured in the United States.
• There were 5,154 motorcycle deaths.
• 47 of the deaths occurred in Oregon.

Medical bills for treating an Oregon motorcyclist’s injuries can be very costly, and you may need multiple surgeries and rehabilitation therapy in order to recover. Taking time off from work to heal could lead to lost wages.

Portland barber loses leg in suspected DUI crash, KGW.com, October 30, 2008
Morning Beaverton Crash Under Investigation, AM 1360, October 28, 2008
Related Web Resources:

Motorcycle Traffic Safety Fact Sheet, NHTSA
Motorcycle Crashes, Insurance Information Institute

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50 SW Pine St 3rd Floor Portland, OR 97204 Telephone: (503) 226-3844 Fax: (503) 943-6670 Email: matthew@mdkaplanlaw.com
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