A driver behind the wheel in a car crash that left one person dead and three seriously injured was reportedly traveling at nearly twice the speed limit, police say.
Speeding, of course, is one of the most prevalent contributing factors in auto accidents, with the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reporting the average annual cost of speed-related crashes nationally is more than $40 billion.
Bangor Daily News staffers recently combed through law enforcement analysis of the May 14th crash in Belfast involving a 19-year-old driver and her four young passengers.
The teen driver was reportedly driving on Route 52 traveling west. It was shortly after midnight. She suddenly veered off the road. It was rainy and road conditions were wet and slick. The driver then over-corrected to the left and went off the road to the left side. At the time, she was reportedly traveling 80 mph in a 45 mph zone.
Her 2008 Pontiac rolled over into a field. A 19-year-old man seated in the back was ejected from the vehicle and suffered a fatal head injury.
A 23-year-old woman, a cousin of the driver, was partially ejected from the front seat. She suffered broken bones and other wounds and was transported to the Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Another passenger in the back seat, a 24-year-old man, was buckled in and did not sustain serious injuries. The driver also was wearing a seat belt and was not seriously injured.
A crash reconstruction specialist with the Maine State Police culled through witness statements and also analyzed the skid marks on the road. That is how they determined the driver’s speed at the time of the crash.
The motorist was also tested for alcohol and drugs, but the results of those tests won’t be back for many weeks. The outcome of those tests could determine the course of any future wrongful death or personal injury lawsuits. That’s because while negligence on the part of the driver may be fairly easy to establish, particularly given her speed and the slick road conditions, there may be additional defendants named if the driver was drinking. That’s because she is underage and not legally allowed to consume alcohol. Maine’s Liquor Liability Act, Maine Revised Statutes Title 28-A, Chapter 100, hold that a vendor licensed to serve alcohol can be liable for negligently or recklessly providing alcohol to a minor under 21 or an intoxicated person. Social hosts too can be held liable for damage resulting from knowingly serving alcohol to a minor.
The NHTSA reports that alcohol involvement is prevalent for drivers involved in speeding-related crashes. In 2012, more than 40 percent of speeding drivers had blood-alcohol concentration of .08 grams per deciliter or higher in fatal crashes. That’s compared to 16 percent of non-speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes. The comparison for drivers under 21 was 28 percent versus 13 percent. Among drivers ages 21 to 24, it was 50 percent versus 24 percent.
Most speed-related crashes wherein the driver was impaired occurred at night, with 69 percent happening between midnight and 3 a.m.
Speed-related crashes were also more common with poor road conditions. While speeding was noted as a factor in 20 percent of fatal accidents that occurred on dry roads, it was a factor in 23 percent of fatal accidents on wet roads, 36 percent on snowy roads and 44 percent on icy roads.
If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Police: Driver in fatal Belfast crash driving at least 80 mph, May 23, 2016, By Abigail Curtis, Bangor Daily News
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