Thursday, July 22, 2010

Digging for the cause

Yesterday afternoon there was a 3-car crash on a straight stretch of Greenwood Road north of Route 120/Charles Road, involving two cars and a squad car running hot.

The initial report in the Northwest Herald indicates that an (apparently) oncoming car (to the squad) stopped and was then rear-ended and pushed into the path of the squad car, which left the roadway and hit a tree.

Just as with the crash in northern Wisconsin in which a deputy died, I'm willing to ask the hard questions right up front. Running "hot" is dangerous, as I recently wrote, and should occur in very selected circumstances. Many times it is necessary and appropriate. Let's see about yesterday.

Logical questions:

Toward what time of call was the deputy responding?
How many deputies were responding to that call?
Where was he in the order of distance of deputies from that call?
Was he needed at the call toward which he was driving?
Were other deputies already on the scene at the other call?

What were the traffic congestion conditions on Greenwood Road?
Was there other northbound traffic as well as southbound?
Was he having to run down the center of the road, with drivers in opposite directions pulling over toward or onto narrow shoulders?
Were the two cars involved in the accident with the squad car southbound, with the northbound lane clear?

If the northbound lane was clear for the squad car, why did the driver in the black Pontiac Grand Am stop? THIS IS A MAJOR PROBLEM IN MCHENRY COUNTY! State law requires you to stop only if necessary for an emergency vehicle to pass safely, yet drivers stop when not necessary, creating dangerous traffic conditions!

How abruptly did the driver of the Grand Am stop?
Did the driver of the Grand Am first observe traffic following him to be sure he could stop safely? It's a 55MPH zone there.
Did the driver of the Grand Am activate the 4-way hazard lights on his vehicle?

Was the driver of the Mitsubishi that struck the rear of the Grand Am and pushed it into the path of the squad car following the Grand Am too closely?

For how long a distance had the emergency equipment (lights, siren) of the squad car been in use?
As the deputy approached the oncoming cars, did he observe that the Mitsubishi might be traveling too fast to stop without hitting the Grand Am?
What was the speed of the squad car before the crash?
Was the deputy talking on the radio or on his phone or reading his computer screen?

Did the Grand Am hit the squad car and force it off the road, or did the deputy drive off the road in an attempt to avoid a head-on wreck? (I know what the paper says.)


Notawannabee said...

I disagree with you Gus. Pulling parallel to the curb is much easier if you are stopped than moving. If everyone DID drive to the shoulder and stop these incidents would not occur. You nitpick each thing and fail to see that the person that DID NOT YIELD caused this problem,not the one that did.

(625 ILCS 5/11‑907) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11‑907)
Sec. 11‑907. Operation of vehicles and streetcars on approach of authorized emergency vehicles.
(a) Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of audible and visual signals meeting the requirements of this Code or a police vehicle properly and lawfully making use of an audible or visual signal,
(1) the driver of every other vehicle shall yield
the right‑of‑way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right‑hand edge or curb of the highway clear of any intersection and shall, if necessary to permit the safe passage of the emergency vehicle, stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, unless otherwise directed by a police officer and

Gus said...

Notawannabee, thanks for your comment. So far, it seems that the cause of the crash may have been inattention on the part of the driver of the Mitsubishi. On the other hand, did the driver of the Grand Am stop abruptly?

And was there northbound traffic that the deputy came up behind? If so, then it was more important for the Grand Am driver to stop, in order to allow the deputy to pass safely.

If there was no other northbound traffic, though, the Grand Am driver contributed to the crash by stopping.

The speed and lane use of the deputy needs to be examined. An important section of the IVC requires the operator of a vehicle using emergency equipment to "... driv(e) with due regard for the safety of all persons.

Hopefully, the crash report of the Bull Valley P.D. officer will answer all questions and result in citations for violations.

Notawannabee said...

Typically larger departments such as ones with trained Traffic Crash Reconstruction Investigators do their own independent investigation. I would rather rely more upon the evidence collected by trained investigators than what BV had to say.

Most police officers even those with primarily traffic functions (most Troopers) lack the investigative skills of a certified Traffic Crash Reconstructionist. With the civil liability attaching to all crash involving an emergency vehicle (WHEATHER RIGHT OR WRONG) it is best that a full scale investigation is performed by certified personnel that investigate serious crashes routinely.

Gus said...

Because there may be fewer questions about direction of travel, points of impact, sequence of impact, general traffic conditions, it may be that a primary traffic investigator, although not a Crash Reconstructionist, can do an adequate job.

Hopefully, the report will be more than "Unit 1 hit rear of Unit 2, pushing Unit 2 into path of Unit 3, resulting in Unit 3 hitting tree.