One of the responsibilities we all have as drivers is to make sure our vehicles are in safe driving condition. A car with faulty, broken or unstable parts creates a risk not just to ourselves and our passengers, but to other motorists on the road. If a car accident results from a vehicle that isn't in working order, a driver could even face criminal charges.
An example of this is the case of a 23 year-old man from Columbia, Maryland, who lost control of his car in November 2010, causing an accident that killed two people, including one of his passengers. A traffic reconstruction expert said the man was driving between 68 and 74 mph on a stretch of road with a 55 mph speed limit when his car crossed the median and collided with an oncoming van. As a result of that collision, the van struck another vehicle, causing damage to a fourth vehicle that was hit by debris from that impact.
The driver who caused the collision suffered two broken ankles and internal stomach injuries. His passenger in the front seat, who was ejected from the car, was rushed to a hospital but died as a result of his injuries. The 35-year-old woman driving the van was taken to a hospital, where she was also pronounced dead.
The traffic reconstruction expert noted that the driver who caused the accident was driving on a spare tire. While this alone isn't considered a traffic violation, it's unwise to drive for very long on one, and extremely dangerous to drive so far above the speed limit on a piece of equipment that's only intended for temporary emergency use. Most spare tires have very little tread, are smaller than the other car's tires and offer little protection against road imperfections. They also prevent drivers from cornering, handling and braking effectively, which would explain why the driver lost control.
As a result of his actions, the man will spend 18 months in prison followed by five years of supervised probation. But the family members of the victims will spend the rest of their lives without their loved ones. It's possible they'll decide to file a civil wrongful death suit against the driver, whose negligent and risky behavior led to their unnecessary pain and suffering.
Source: Columbia Patch, "Columbia Man Gets 18 Months in Fatal Accident," Andrew Metcalf, June 21, 2012