January 24, 2013

Prince George’s Patrolman Killed in Fatal Car Crash Was Not His Wearing Safety Belt

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

As personal injury trial lawyers located in the Baltimore area, we see numerous victims of automobile, commercial truck and motorcycle accidents every year. And, as drivers ourselves, we know the value of wearing a safety belt whenever one ventures out on the road these days. With the volume and density of roadway traffic in towns and cities all around Maryland and the District of Columbia, there is no excuse for those drivers who throw caution to the wind and operate their motor vehicle while not “belted in.”

Of course, there are instances when seatbelts have been known to exacerbate accident victims’ injuries, although those cases are relatively few when compared to all of the lives saved by these albeit simple life-saving devices. In fact, since traffic collisions are the single-most common cause of death for people aged five to 34 years of age, it would seem prudent for anyone -- drivers and passengers alike -- to make it a habit of buckling up whenever getting into a motor vehicle these days.

The statistics speak for themselves: With upward of 40,000 individuals killed each year in highway wrecks, the use of seatbelts is not only a good idea, it has become law throughout much of the nation. Safety experts tend to agree that seatbelts have the ability to cut in half the number of deaths resulting from traffic collisions. Many of these deaths likely come under the heading of wrongful death, since they were caused by another person's negligence.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), millions of motorists and occupants of motor vehicles continue to travel unprotected from injury in the event of a car or trucking-related crash simply because they forget or consciously refuse to wear a seatbelt during every trip in a motor vehicle. Consider, if you will, that in 2009 more than two million adults found themselves in hospital emergency rooms after receiving some kind of injury from a traffic crash.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of the usefulness of seatbelts, adults aged 18 to 34 years were nearly 10 percent LESS likely to wear a seat belt than adults those individuals 35 years of age or older. In general, men are 10 percent less likely to wear a seatbelt than women; and those adults who live in rural parts of the country are 10 percent less likely than their urban counterparts to wear a seatbelt.

Experts are generally in agreement that seatbelt use does reduce serious and life-threatening injury by about 50 percent. And while there are still many people who believe that airbags provide all the protection they may need in the event of a car or trucking-related accident, it has been established that they are not a substitute for a properly worn safety belt during a traffic accident.

For anyone who can look at the facts and still not be convinced of efficacy of these basic safety items, consider the results of accidents in which people with more training and better discipline have died. One such accident took place a couple months ago when a police cruiser slammed into a sport utility vehicle and then a utility pole, killing the 28-year-old Prince George’s County officer. The patrolman, according to news reports, was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash.

Based on police reports, the accident occurred as the officer was on his way home, and initial comments by police authorities indicated that the SUV’s driver may have been at fault. Regardless of the cause, the six-year police veteran was reportedly not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash. Emergence responders apparently took the injured officer to the hospital, however doctors could not save the man and he passed away not long after being admitted.

According to news reports, the SUV driver may have been traveling above the speed limit when she attempted to avoid a tour bus, apparently causing her to swerve into the path of the police cruiser, based on information from witnesses to the collision. As a result of the initial collision with the SUV, the officer’s vehicle reportedly hit a nearby utility pole, which nearly cut the vehicle in two upon impact.

The woman behind the wheel of the SUV survived that crash and was taken to Prince George’s Hospital with reportedly non-life-threatening injuries. At the time of the news article, authorities did not yet know the results of any toxicology tests to determine is alcohol or drugs may have played a part in the deadly crash.


28-year-old Maryland police officer dies after crash, GantDaily.com, October 19, 2012