November 23, 2008

Chicago family wants more serious charges filed in fatal DUI accident

The family of a woman who died in a Southside accident wants more serious charges filed against two drivers who were involved the a deadly crash. Prosecutors now say they believe police improperly investigated the crash where one of the alleged offenders was an off-duty Chicago police officer. ABC 7 News reports that the family wants felonies filed in the case.

The June 2007 accident occurred at a Southside Chicago intersection when the victim was riding on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle driven by off-duty Chicago police officer Eugene Bikulcius. They were coming from a neighborhood bar. According to the police report, the motorcycle struck a Dodge Charger as its driver, 49-year-old Carol Miller, was making an illegal left-hand turn. The impact was so hard police diagrams show the motorcycle impact turned the car 180 degrees.

On the night of the accident, the driver of the car, Miller, was arrested for misdemeanor DUI. Police reports show that Officer Bikulcius wasn’t given a breathalyzer test because he was taken to the hospital. Eventually- five months later- the Cook County state's attorney office uncovered hospital blood tests that showed Bikulcius was intoxicated that night. Blood tests showed he was three times the legal limit. That's when the state's attorney also charged him with misdemeanor DUI charges. Drivers under the influence who cause a death usually are charged with Class 2 felonies that can hold a penalty of up to 14 years in prison and subject them to civil liability.

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November 16, 2008

Insurance study shows ABS cuts rider deaths and bike damage

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that antilock brakes could help motorcycle riders avoid fatal crashes. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the fatal crash rate involving motorcycles with optional ABS was 38 percent lower than the rate involving similar cycles without the systems.

ABS, like its counterparts on cars and trucks, helps riders stop their bikes abruptly without locking the wheels or fishtailing. The system allows riders to brake both wheels in an emergency without hitting the pavement. ABS is typically found on touring bikes and has been available on a limited number of motorcycles since 1988.

As of late, there has been a steady rise in motorcycle deaths--more than 5,100 cyclists died in 2007, compared with 2,294 in 1998. In one report focusing on the 2005-2006 time period, researchers studied eight motorcycles that offered ABS and found 6.6 fatal crashes per 10,000 registered motorcycles without ABS and 4.1 per 10,000 with ABS. In a second study that looked at Honda, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha bikes found insurance losses were 21 percent lower for motorcycles with ABS than for bikes without.

ABS is standard or optional on about 40 motorcycles from the 2008 model year including bikes manufactured by BMW, Harley-Davidson and Honda.

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