We have spoken of distractions on many occasions and we’d like to reiterate the potential for severe bodily injury when the warning signs just outside a driver’s windshield are not heeded because one is too fixated on reading or sending a text message or doing some other highly distracting activity. Automobile and commercial trucking wrecks occur daily, both on our highways and along city streets. There are few men or women out there who can multi-task on a superhuman basis to the point that driver distraction is not a deadly threat to both driver and passengers.
Being personal injury attorneys here in Baltimore and serving greater Maryland and the District of Columbia, we understand how easy it is to become sidetracked by a phone call or enticing email from a friend or relative. But when these interruptions happen from the driver’s seat of a passenger car, or worse, a commercial delivery vehicle or semi tractor-trailer, the ingredients for a potentially deadly traffic collision are all there.
We’ve already seen what a possibly distracted teen driver wrought out in Worcester County a while back. But it is incumbent on every driver to maintain 100 percent of his or her attention to the job at hand: operating a two-ton motor vehicle on public roads while maintaining to the best of their ability the safety of their car, themselves and the innocent people all around them. To paraphrase a now well-known saw, “It takes a village to maintain a peaceful roadway.” And while that may seem a little silly, the fact is a highway or crowded city street is a kind of rolling village, and we are all, for a time, responsible for the harmony or chaos at any one moment.
Just as that young teen could have looked up and stopped in time to avoid hitting another vehicle and causing a horrendous two-car pileup and ensuing fire, he was not engaged as part of the community of drivers as he approached that bus stop. Luckily for everyone that day, the result, though potentially deadly, was happily without serious injury or death. This is why we found the comment of a local fire chief, admonishing motorists to be more careful when approaching the scene of an auto accident, to be hearty words of advice to drivers all across Maryland.
According to the article we ran across, Chief Marc Bashoor went public, airing concerns for the safety of the public as well as for his personnel and other emergency responders across the state, following a rash of collisions between private vehicles and the fire vehicles in Prince George’s County. For those who do not recall, the chief’s statements came after the last of the city’s working fire engines was seriously damaged by a passenger car that crashed into the fire truck on the beltway in Greenbelt.
Based on news items, that accident was the second of two incidents that occurred in the span of just one month. Bashoor spoke out after two on-duty fire trucks, one from the Greenbelt FD and the other in Branchville, were hit on separate occasions as they were being used to protect EMS personnel at traffic accident sites. Besides mentioning the $110 fine driver can receive for not moving over when passing an emergency vehicle, the chief’s statements were also for the safety of the public.
Used for what officials refer to as “barrier protection,” fire trucks are large enough to provide cover for emergency responders working at a roadside car or trucking accident. As evidenced by the two closely spaced collisions, it would appear that the public still has a lot to learn about the safe way to pass an accident scene. According to the news article, the chief also mentioned that both vehicles were damaged sufficiently to put them out of service, with combined repair costs of at least $80,000 estimated. As for the causes of these car-EMS vehicle crashes, driver distraction was said to be a potential in each. The point is, driver need to shift their awareness back to the road where it belongs and eschew the cellphone calls and texting in favor of a safe arrival at their destination.
Fire Chief Speaks Up After Car Strikes Greenbelt Fire Engine, Patch.com, September 11, 2012