Abandoned, parked vehicles potential killers
Ken Nunn, Guest Writer
As an attorney who has 43 years of experience in handling cases involving personal injury and wrongful death, I feel a responsibility and a duty to let the citizens of Indiana know of the correctable dangers that exist on our highways.
The danger involves abandoned or parked cars on the side of busy highways.
The solution is to pass a law to allow police officers to immediately remove these killer cars from the side of our Indiana highways.
I have lost four clients to wrongful death from abandoned or parked cars on the side of a busy highway. In addition, I have had many clients who have suffered serious injuries because of these cars. Now, every time I pass an abandoned vehicle on the highway, I think to myself, ‘Someone is going to get killed or seriously injured here; it’s just a matter of time before it happens.’
It’s time Indiana lawmakers start protecting the people of Indiana and take steps to change this bad law.
As currently written, the law grants police officers no authority to do anything upon finding an abandoned or parked vehicle other than placing a sticker on the window, then another one 24 hours later and then another one 24 hours after that. Finally, after two or three days, the police officer is granted the legal authority to have the car towed. It is during this waiting period that people lose their lives or are seriously injured.
The solution is simple. Change the law to allow all police officers to remove these vehicles immediately upon discovery, thus removing the dangerous conditions.
It’s obvious that lawmakers are aware of the grave danger stationary objects in the roadway pose. Just look at the precautions they take with every overpass: Each one, almost without exception, has protective yellow water barrels placed in front of its concrete support columns.
The state recognizes this danger, so why let these cars remain on the side of busy highways? State lawmakers have tied the hands of police officers and taken the cheap way out. ‘If the state does nothing, maybe the owner will eventually come back to get their car in two or three days’ is a terrible solution to the problem. Our citizens are being killed and seriously injured because of these vehicles. These cases are almost totally preventable. That is why we have safety shoulders and rumble strips. It defies logic to leave abandoned or parked vehicles on the side of the road. It is a wrongful death or a serious injury waiting to happen.
It’s the law in Indiana that you must slow down and switch to an outside lane if a police officer or vehicle is present. Why? Because when they are present on the shoulder of a highway or state road, they have put themselves in harm’s way.
Police officers are not at fault in any way. The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of state lawmakers. Victims of wrongful death and serious injury do not have the money to hire professional lobbyists, so the lawmakers really don’t pay much attention to this particular issue. Unfortunately, it will take a lawmaker’s son or daughter or the lawmakers themselves to crash, and then we will get a change in the law.
Shame on Indiana lawmakers who have, for some reason, not found time to change this bad law. Every Hoosier should demand immediate action from their state lawmaker on this inconsistent and half-baked approach to highway safety.
Editor’s note: Ken Nunn is an injury lawyer in Bloomington.