Fatal Chicago area motorcycle accident leads to charges against distracted driver who was painting her nails

A driver accused of causing a fatal Chicago area motorcycle accident while polishing her nails has been charged with reckless homicide.

The 48-year-old Morris woman faces up to five years in prison on a six-count indictment stemming from the May 2 death of Lake Zurich resident Anita Zaffke, according to a report in the Daily Herald.

Chicago authorities continue to combat an increasing number of motorcycle accidents, many of which are caused by distracted driving. Nationwide, deadly motorcycle accidents increased for the 11th straight year — claiming 5,290 lives in 2008– now accounting for 14 percent of all fatal traffic accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Last month, our Chicago motorcycle accident lawyers wrote on this blog about the 22 percent increase in Chicago motorcycle accidents during the past two years. There were 2,663 motorcycle accidents in the Chicago area last year, or more than a dozen a day during the five-month riding season.

This crash was part of a series of fatal Chicago motorcycle accidents we wrote about earlier this summer.

In this case, the woman is accused of painting her nails while driving 50 mph when she struck Zaffke’s motorcycle at the intersection of Rand and Old McHenry roads near Lake Zurich, according to police.

While Zaffke’s death prompted a debate about the dangers of distracted driving and its link to fatal Chicago traffic accidents, prosecutors in this case content the defendant’s actions went beyond distracted driving, calling her “oblivious” to the safety of other motorists on the road, according to the Herald Tribune report.

The accused driver was initially charged with failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, but the charge was dropped in favor of the more serious reckless homicide charge; the charges could not have been upgraded had she quickly pleaded to the lesser charges.

Bond for the defendant was set at $100,000 and her attorney said he was making arrangements for her to surrender to authorities.

Zaffke was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash but died shortly after being taken to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, according to the Lake County News-Sun.

The Lake County coroner ruled the cause of death was chest and abdominal injuries stemming from the accident.