The unfortunate and mostly unavoidable side-effect of modern day motoring is that large and small vehicle alike end up sharing Maryland’s high-speed and congested thoroughfares. Regardless if one lives or works in Germantown, Glenn Burnie, Waldorf or the District, the potential for an accident involving a commercial delivery truck, semi tractor-trailer, or even a commercial repair van is ever-present across our state.
As Maryland personal injury lawyers, we serve the victims of car, truck and motorcycle accidents who have been sent to the hospital with serious to life-threatening injuries all because of another individual’s error in judgment or simple careless actions. Thousands of innocent people are hurt or killed annually by negligent driving attributed to operators of 18-wheelers, flatbed tractor-trailers, commercial box trucks and gasoline or chemical tankers. We understand how a simple drive to the mall or a trip to the supermarket can end in weeks or months of medical treatment, physical pain and difficult rehabilitation.
Many auto accidents in here in Maryland typically happen on some of the more frequented byways, such as Interstate 695 (also known as the Baltimore Beltway), the Baltimore-Washington Pkwy (I-295), Interstate 95, and I-495/Washington Beltway. Simply bad driving, possibly overworked truckers, and illegally loaded and oversized trailers are just a few of the dangers that can confront Maryland drivers on a daily basis.
For those who believe that bad traffic accidents only happen to other people; people who don’t have an awareness of the potential dangers found on our roadways, think again. Even the best drivers and most experienced individuals on our highways can be caught off guard. Take the near fatal sideswipe incident that almost caused the death of a Maryland State Police officer last summer.
According to news reports, that officer considered how lucky he was to have survived a run-in with a tractor-trailer back in September and offered his plea to drivers all across the state to move over for police car, emergency vehicles and other motor vehicles parked or disabled on the shoulder of our highways, parkways and expressways.
Of course, the state’s “Move Over” law requires other vehicles passing a police or emergency vehicle to either move over or significantly reduce their speed as they pass within mere feet of a car on the shoulder. Many drivers still don’t understand or even realize this law exists, which was evidenced by the footage recorded by Trooper David Avila’s dashboard video camera the day of that remarkable and potentially deadly incident.
Based on news articles, Avila was in the middle of a traffic stop along a stretch of Interstate 70 on June 14, 2012 when an 18-wheeler grazed the officer as it sped by at expressway speeds. The tractor trailer, which was obviously driving too close to the shoulder, sideswiped the officer’s police cruiser and then hit the trooper himself. Avila said that he heard the truck’s tires contacting the rumble strip on the outer edge of the roadway, which may have given him a momentary notice of the impending impact, but there was no time for evasive action.
Keep in mind that at 60mph, a vehicle is traveling 88 feet in just one second. At the rate, there is rarely time to react when one is standing close to the side of a busy roadway. Even if a pedestrian is paying close attention, a fast-moving commercial truck can be a deadly weapon in the wrong hands.
In this particular case, Trooper Avila was still recovering from his injuries a couple months after the accident, which took place near Hagerstown, MD. As a result of the crash, the officer sustained shoulder and back-related injuries, as well as some trauma to one of his legs. If you haven’t seen the video, we highly recommend it to anyone who considers the “Move Over” law unnecessary. Certainly, it’s sobering to see how close this officer came to being killed by large motor vehicle whose driver was apparently not paying strict attention.
Our suggestion after watching this clip: Drive carefully, obey Maryland’s traffic laws and consider the dangers that our police officers and other emergency responders face on a daily basis to keep all of us safe and alive.
David Avila, Md. State Trooper, recovering from injuries after being stuck by tractor trailer while standing on I-70; dashboard camera records accident, WUSA9.com, September 7, 2012
State Trooper Hit By Tractor Trailer Urges Drivers To Obey ‘Move Over’ Law, CBSLocal.com, September 7, 2012