Saturday, September 03, 2011

Doug Daniele, Father, Cyclist, Motorcyclist, Person, Mourned

Happier days in Paramus, NJ: Daniele and his sons and a friend
Motorist inexperience possible factor in fatal crash
Sept. 3, 2011
Doug Daniele, 48, of Bergen County, NJ was mourned yesterday and today by family, friends and acquaintances.

Daniele was killed in a tragic crash with a motorist on August 31 in Suffern, NY while riding his motorcycle. 

The loss of Daniele who touched so many lives brought tears to the eyes of many who attended his wake on Friday held in Oradell, NJ and a mass in his honor today at the Church of the Annunciation in Paramus, NJ.

Many never thought this day would come because Daniele was the bedrock of their lives, his friends recounted. He was passionate, loving, and seemed to make just about everyone feel like they were the most important person in the world.

So it may have been no surprise at today's services when even grown men who looked like they were as tough as line backers sobbed alongside women dressed in black dresses and pearls. No eye was dry, no head was unbent as the Reverend spoke about the greatness of Daniele, and how his full life was intended to be a long one. "This was not God's plan," he said of Daniele's passing.

Daniele's wife Carol Sandorse Daniele spoke in a quiet voice, her face beautiful but clearly wracked since her husband's passing. She wore a black suit that seemed to both accentuate her petite frame and evoke the fragility of life.

In a moment that could tear any heart to pieces, but also render it whole through its tenderness, Daniele's three sons Michael 13, Joseph 10, and Jesse 30 now bereft of their father, laid a ceremonial cloth on his casket.

Beverly Cancellieri, Daniele's sister, also spoke about her brother with emotion breaking her composure and her words.

Though Daniele's life was not only about cycling, many who came to respect him had ridden with him either on a road bike, a mountain bike, or on a motorcycle.

After the mass, Daniele's fellow mountain bike cyclists acknowledged that he had been their clear leader, organizing them through the North Jersey Mountain Bike Association where he was the founder.

Some members of the NJMBA gathered at a local diner after the mass to pass around photos of their times together, to talk about his humor, to recount special moments and places, and most of all to try and feel better about the gnawing empty feeling in their stomachs that appeared when Daniele's soul left the earth.

Motorist Inexperience Possible Factor in Daniele Crash

Meanwhile the details of Daniele's crash with the 17-year-old motorist were still pending the outcome of a police investigation.

A spokesperson for the Ramapo Police Dept. confirmed that since the motorist was underage her name would not be released.

Speaking for the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, spokesman Nicholas Cantiello confirmed that it is illegal to move from the right hand lane to perform a left hand turn.

Because of her age, the motorist was most likely to have been operating the 2008 Honda Civic with a driver's permit. Under state law, she would have to be accompanied by a legal guardian or parent in the car, in this case, her mother in order to drive.

But Cantiello said that U-turns in general are not legal on state highways such as  Route 17.

Stefan Koncz, a friend of Daniele who lives in the area of the incident and happened to pass by the scene of the incident that day said there was a break in the meridian that the driver was likely trying to reach when she turned to perform a U-turn.

Traffic in that portion of the roadway also begins to slow as it narrows and enters a 40 mile-per-hour speed zone, explained Koncz, so a properly performed U-turn may have been legal. But repeated calls to the Ramapo Accident Investigation team have not confirmed whether this driver will be summonsed for the turn.

The driver and her mother were overheard arguing loudly after the crash about how she was to have taken the turn, according to eye witnesses, each one allegedly with a different version of events.

Drivers involved in fatal incidents can be summonsed after the fact if the investigation finds that they broke the law, said Cantiello.

Though there is no word on whether the driver will be summonsed for her actions leading up to the crash, the motorist's age and inexperience may have played a part: Young drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 cause more crashes and fatalities than any other age group.

"Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for teens and the crash fatality rate is highest for 16 to 17 year olds within the first six months of getting their license," said NYS DMV Commissioner David J. Swarts in 2010. 

Young drivers represent only 12 percent of all drivers, yet they account for 20 percent of drivers involved in crashes, said a report completed by his office. And 16 and 17-year-olds are three times more likely to be involved in a crash than the rest of the driving population, it concluded.

The problem is not a new one, and on February 22, 2010, legislators instituted additional hurdles for teens looking to obtain their driver's license in New York by requiring 50 hours of driving time in a car with a guardian (up from 20), and allowing only one other passenger in the vehicle (rather than two.)

Though many believe that drunk driving among teens is the leading cause of crashes, driver error, speeding and being distracted are the biggest causes, said the DMV in a statement.

But even these new requirements beg the question, how can any of this help if the parent doesn't have common sense and allows an inexperienced driver to operate on a state highway? And how does the new law prevent young people from committing errors of judgment while driving just because their parent is present? In two words: it doesn't.

Whether a parent allows their child to drive on a state highway is up to them, said Cantiello, even if it makes no sense at all to have an inexperienced driver on a fast road with many traffic challenges.

And though parents must accompany their children under the supervised driving rules, if a child commits an error--such as causing a fatality, the crash becomes part of the child's driving record, not the parent's, said Cantiello.

Depending on the outcome of the accident investigation in Daniele's crash, the driver will likely have to attend a special hearing on the crash, where her conduct will be evaluated. As a result, she could face misdemeanor charges, or delays anywhere from a year to several years in obtaining a driver's license.

The driver could also be facing criminal charges if the investigation finds that she broke any laws such as texting while driving, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

On July 31, 2011 New York State Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's proposals for a national teen driver safety plan were approved by a key Senate committee.  The legislation would set national standards for states to implement Graduated Drivers License (GDL) programs that prepare teens to be safe, responsible drivers, said a spokesperson for Gillibrand's office.

Still, none of the laws in the U.S. compare to some European restrictions on teen drivers, where graduated driving rules keep teens off the roads until they have proven that they know how to drive.

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