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On the Road Again…

I have done a lot of traveling over the past few weeks for both professional and personal reasons (one of the reasons for the conspicuous lack of postings). I continue to be dismayed by what I see during my travels, as it appears that negligent driving abounds anywhere I go. As I sit now in the safety of my home office and ponder the cornucopia of negligent acts I have witnessed over the past few weeks, I think negligent drivers can be categorized into four main areas:

1. The Bar Raiser: This is the individual who appears to have their phone permanently affixed to their head. They talk incessantly and pay more attention to the conversation than the road. They make the phone companies regret the “Unlimited Plan.”

2. The Librarian: This is the individual who likes to read anything while driving except for traffic signs. The most common reading material is the text message, Tweet, Facebook update, and e-mail. However, some “old school” members of this group really enjoy their newspapers and are determined not to let a silly thing like a green light prevent them from finishing George Will’s latest column. Some of the most dedicated of this group even dare to read full books while stopped at intersections. Once in a New Moon (pun intended), they may actually pay attention.

3. The Space Cadet: This is the individual who for whatever reason ponders many questions while driving and focuses on anything but the road. Their thought process may include: Who am I? Where am I? What is the meaning of life? Why are bunnies fluffy? That green light is pretty. I will sit here and admire its prettiness. Why is that man’s car behind me making loud noises? Doesn’t he see the green is pretty?

4. The Taser: This is the individual who does something so stupid, so careless, and so utterly befuddling that were you a patrol officer you would pull them over and summarily tase them in the face just for having the audacity to get behind the wheel.

Some of you may ask why these drivers upset me so. After all, aren’t I in the business of negligence as a personal injury lawyer? To some extent, that’s true. But, negligence upsets me because I’m on the road with these people. My wife is on the road with these people. My family and friends are on the road with these people. You are on the road with these people. Eventually, the odds are one of us will be a victim of this negligence, which could lead to injury or worse.

I was reading the December 2009 issue of Men’s Health the other day (just slightly behind in my subscription reading) and in it was a great article by Oliver Broudy entitled “Dead Man Driving.” The beginning of the article poses the following question:

“Car crashes happen to other guys, right? Maybe they don’t have your quick reaction time or uncanny ability to multitask behind the wheel. Or maybe they’re simply lesser drivers.”

This question is such a great way to start that article (which detailed the causes and effects of a crash that left a wife widowed) because I believe its how many of us think when we’re behind the wheel. I know I certainly do; when I might occasionally glance at my iPhone while flying down the interstate. I know full well that’s how the four drivers described above think. It’s only natural for us to be confident in our abilities with a task that is so routine in our lives.

But, consider the following statistics that the article outlined:

2: Percentage of people who are able to drive safely while multitasking. (study by the University of Utah)

78: Percentage of crashes caused by driver distractions. (study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute)

33: Percentage of traffic fatalities that are related to speeding. (study by NHTSA)

271: In feet, the stopping distance of the average car traveling at 60 mph. That’s almost the length of a football field. (Edmunds.com)

23x: Increase in crash risk if you text while driving. (study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute)

3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Friday: Time of day and day of the week when most crashes occur (study by the NHTSA).

I find these statistics to be somewhat alarming. I hope you do as well. Negligent driving can create far-reaching and serious consequences for both the negligent driver and the victim. Each of the cases that have come across my desk can attest to that.

In my experience, should you find yourself the victim of The Bar Raiser, The Librarian, The Space Cadet, or The Taser, you’ll find it to be a lonely place. Few will be Neighborly, few will Do the Responsible Thing, few will be On Your Side, and you likely will not be In Good Hands. I hope you never find yourself in that position, Faithful Reader; but, should you do please know that we’re here to help.

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his own. This article is not intended to convey any specific legal advice upon any specific individual. The author does not condone, sanction, advocate, or support the unauthorized use of violence. He will occasionally enjoy a lively game of Call of Duty, but that is fantasy. Tasers are dangerous weapons and should only be used by those with proper training. The author’s description of “The Taser” is a hyperbolic description used to illustrate a point and perhaps elicit a chuckle in its unreasonableness. For those of you would would agree to such a statement in seriousness, the author will state criminal and civil liability could potentially result from such conduct. Consulting with an experienced attorney may be beneficial should you have questions regarding this. Many people do not understand self-defense laws, and the author may one day attempt to explain them on this blog. In the meantime, in the words of a University of Florida scholar, “Don’t Tase me, bro’!”

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