Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accidents

A Clatsop County court has convicted a 45-year old Portland man in a case stemming from a fatal drunk driving car crash last year, according to The Oregonian.

The case of Ken Middleton’s Portland fatal car crash is particularly shocking not only because of the sheer amount of alcohol he consumed in the hours leading up to the accident, but also because he got behind the wheel so completely intoxicated despite having his own 13-year-old daughter riding with him. The Daily Astorian reported that Middleton, at his trial, “admitted he had consumed at least 12 beers that day.” His daughter, mercifully, “suffered only minor injuries,” according to The Oregonian.

In addition to Oregon drunk driving Middleton was convicted of manslaughter, second-degree assault and three counts of reckless endangering, The Oregonian reports. The manslaughter charge stems from the death of Andrew Church, a motorcyclist whom Middleton struck head on when he drifted over the centerline as he and his daughter drove along US-30 in Astoria last May.

In a scenario that reads like a scene from a movie or television show, a 19-year-old motorcycle rider was arrested Friday at the end of a high-speed chase near Salem. According to The Oregonian, the chase included a dramatic Oregon motorcycle and car crash that, miraculously, left no one injured.

The incident began when a Marion County sheriffs’ deputy saw a lone motorcyclist zoom past him at 112 miles per hour. According to the Salem Statesman-Journal, the officer chased the motorcyclist southbound on I-5 at speeds as high as 125 miles per hour but eventually relented for fear of endangering other drivers. When the biker tried to exit at Mission Street SE, however, he lost control of his motorcycle and was hurled off the bike as it careened off-road. The riderless motorcycle then slammed into a car as the rider attempted to flee on foot, according to The Oregonian.

By an extraordinary stroke of luck neither the biker nor the driver of the car his motorcycle hit was injured. Once apprehended the 19-year-old suspect was charged with a long list of offenses: “reckless driving, attempting to elude police, hit-and-run, driving without insurance and failing to have a motorcycle endorsement, as well as several citations,” the Statesman-Journal reported. The rider, according to The Oregonian, later told police he fled from them because he wanted to avoid getting “another” speeding ticket.

Portland-area drivers on I-205 near Gladstone were delayed for hours last Thursday as police closed the road in both directions to investigate the circumstances surrounding a serious Oregon motorcycle crash, according to The Oregonian.

Media reports emphasize that the investigation into the accident and its exact circumstances is still in progress, but some basic details are clear. According to the Portland Tribune, the accident took place Thursday afternoon when a motorcycle that was headed north on the interstate “collided with a vehicle, throwing the rider into a southbound lane.”

This accident highlights the special dangers motorcyclists face on our roads. Despite advances in safety gear, such as helmets, Oregon motorcyclists remain far more likely than car drivers or passengers to die or suffer serious injury as the result of an Oregon motorcycle accident while operating their vehicle.

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,, April 29, 2009
Hit-and-run crash severs man’s leg,, 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,, 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,, 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,
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,, March 9, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Impaired Driving, CDC
Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants, Oregon State Legslature

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