Day 346: “New-car smell” cited in hit-and-run case

15 12 2010
Seriously?! This moron (and his dumb@$$ lawyer) are really using this as a plausible excuse for rear-ending a cyclist in July and leaving the scene of the accident:
 
New Mercedes smell may have contributed to sleep apnea
 
The driver, Martin Erzinger, was driving his new 2010 Mercedes when he either lost consciousness or fell asleep, causing him to rear-end the bicyclist, Dr. Stephen Milo, who suffered a spinal injury and facial cuts in the crash. John Koziol of Koziol Forensic investigated the accident and found that Erzinger’s car was emitting “new car fumes” which may have been a contributing factor in the accident. Riiiight. I’m no lawyer or detective, but I suspect Erzinger’s sleep apnea played more of a part in the crash than the “new-car smell.”

I suppose if the consumption of Twinkies and other junk food was actually used as an argument to support diminished capacity in the 1979 trial of San Francisco supervisor Dan White, why not use a “new-car-smell” defense? Or here’s an idea: how about when you cause an accident and injure someone, you act like an adult and face the consequences rather than trying to place blame on someone (or something) else? Maybe Mr. Erzinger is unaware of the word “karma.”

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
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3 responses

15 12 2010
Tom

Alice, you apparently know a bit about apnea. I know a bit, too, as I deal with sleep apnea every time I get ready for bed–by using a CPAP machine.

It was amazing to me how, once I had been using my machine for a couple weeks, I started being able to stay awake comfortably all day. Oh, I was never one who took naps, but I sure did yawn a lot (still yawn more than I think is normal, but who knows what normal is?). I used to be able to sleep any place, at any time, even with ambient noise or ambient light. All I had to do was let myself sleep.

I say all this because I have seen cases where a person’s untreated sleep apnea caused drowsiness to the point of dangerous behavior. I don’t know that my CPAP machine has saved my life, but it sure has made it more enjoyable, and has allowed me to rest more effectively so that I’m a safer road user.

One of the reasons I like riding instead of driving is that while riding, I never seem to get drowsy as I sometimes do when driving (at which point I have to get out from behind the wheel and let someone else drive).

15 12 2010
Alice - cyclingproject365

I don’t have sleep apnea and don’t know much about it other than knowing a few people who have to use the CPAP machines and swear by them. I have no doubt that lack of sleep can cause someone to be put into dangerous situations. I’ve heard over the years that driving while sleep-deprived is very similar to driving while intoxicated. I have to say though, that I’ve never heard of the new car smell causing someone to become impaired. 🙂
I think we’ve all experienced (at some point or another) the zoning out while driving: heading home from a long day at work and realizing that you don’t recall anything about the past few miles of the drive. It hasn’t happened to me very often, but it’s always a bit disturbing when it does.

I find that I don’t like to ride my bike when I’m distracted. While going for a ride is a nice stress-reliever, I feel that I prefer to be focused on my ride so I have full awareness of my surroundings. As much as possible anyway.

It’ll be interesting to find out more about this guy’s “new car smell defense” as the case moves along. I wonder if that will seriously be considered during the decision? Who knows….

16 12 2010
Tom Armstrong

On reading the article, I wonder if they were trying to get at something not so much the “new car smell” but the compounds that create that smell, saying that the chemical cocktail that creates the smell was semi-poisonous and put him to sleep.

Reminds me of the Formaldehyde issues in cheap wallboarding used in modular housing and RVs.

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