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Old Dominion Freight driver accused of badly injuring cyclist while using wireless device

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Old Dominion Freight Line Inc., which has a substantial presence in Hampton Roads, has been accused of employing a driver who was distracted from the road by a wireless device – a distraction that caused him to hit a motorcyclist who remains hospitalized more than two months later.

Old Dominion has denied the claim, made in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Sioux Falls, S.D., the Associated Press reported.

Old Dominion driver Jeffrey Peterson was driving on Interstate 229 in Sioux Falls on July 31 when he rear-ended motorcyclist Randy Helwig, according to the AP report.

Peterson was “using a messaging device to communicate with the company,” the story said, and was cited for careless driving.

Old Dominion, in court papers, said Peterson “glanced” at the device but was not “utilizing” it.

It is common for truckers to have laptop computers or other devices always deployed in the cab to get updates and orders from their dispatchers, The New York Times reported last month.

Helwig suffered a broken pelvis, broken ribs, broken back, lacerated liver and spleen, head injury, and a badly damaged left arm. He lost one kidney and his small intestine.

Helwig is fed through a tube, has nine drainage tubes coming from different parts of his body and is still undergoing surgeries, according to his CaringBridge Web site.

Texting and other wireless-device use have been in the news lately, and have even received attention from President Barack Obama. I hope people heed advice to avoid using these devices while driving.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton is a law firm which focuses on injury and accident law and our attorneys have experience handling truck accident cases. Check out our case results to see for yourself. Our primary office in based in Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA) although our lawyers hold licenses in NC, SC, WV, KY and DC. We are ready to talk to you by phone right now—we provide free initial confidential injury case consultations, so call us toll free at 1-800-752-0042. Our injury attorneys also host an extensive injury law video library on Youtube . Furthermore, our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard andNorfolk Injuryboard as a pro bono public information service.


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  1. Truckie D says:
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    The hazards of distracted driving have been very much in the news lately — and with good reason.

    There are safeguards that can and should be put into place. The company I lease to has an interlock on their communications system that prevents it from being used while the vehicle is in motion. On some trucks, a dash display will show the first few words of an incoming message, so that a driver can determine if it’s urgent enough to pull over and read. All in all, a sensible way to deal with the problem.

    Imho, if he was looking at it, he was “using” it.