Posts Tagged ‘Autos’

Just Turn Right

March 17, 2014

Right-Turn-Only-Traffic-Sign-K-1829I don’t normally publicize my own wrong-doings and misdeeds. What’s the point? I need to do it this time. This may seem trivial to some and possibly unnecessary to most. To me, this is important.

Friday I went to a church activity (I’m one of the leaders of the church I attend). During a break my wife and I were talking to a mother and her daughter in our congregation. You see, the daughter, “M,” and my daughter, Hannah, go to the same elementary school and we are quite close with her family. Each morning before work, I drop Hannah off at school. Last week “M” was volunteering as a student crossing guard. You know, the ones with the bright “STOP” signs on the wooden pole that walk out when students are crossing the street. During the conversation, I mentioned to “M” that I saw her but commented that she didn’t see me. Exasperated, she exclaimed that she did see me. She added that as I turned left out of the school parking lot, the adult crossing guard was “maaaaaad at me.”  I asked why, and she explained that the crossing guard was upset that I didn’t obey the “Right Turn Only” sign that was clearly posted. Confused and somewhat taken aback, I countered (I’m now arguing with an 11-year-old) “but tons of people turn left there, not just me….What did I do that was so much worse than what everybody else did?”  Her reply, was simple and piercing. “Nothing, she gets mad at everybody that turns left there.”  We bantered back and forth as I tried to explain and justify my defiance. My wife added there was even a recent plea in the school newsletter. In the end, I’m not sure how the conversation ended, but ever since it did, I have been unable to shake the guilt and remorse I feel.

First, I’ve been a poor example. I realized the poor example I was setting for “M” and all the other children when I  obey some laws and choose to break others. I magnified my poor example by my attempts to explain away my disobedience. That was not fair to her, and for that I apologize. Obedience to the law is mandatory, and nobody—especially me—is above that requirement. She was the example to me when I should have been to her. I’m sorry “M.”

If not for ourselves, we owe obedience to the driving laws (and other safety rules) to our children. I still remember the time my mom got a speeding ticket. Even though my mom was generally a good driver, this single experience justified my teenage choices to blatantly disobey speeding laws. “If mom can do it, why can’t I?” With every rule we parents choose to break, we justify our children’s future disobedience. We must demand obedience from ourselves today if we ever expect obedience from our children tomorrow.

Second, I’ve been a hypocrite. As a personal injury attorney, a safety advocate, and a community blogger, I preach adherence to safety rules, all of them. Whether related to speed, direction, following distance, impairment or distractions these rules are necessary to keep us safe and to protect us from harm. Me must follow them–there is no option or justification for disobedience. This applies even to the rules that “everybody breaks” or the laws that seem, to us, unimportant.

I shudder to imagine the potential consequences of my choices. Fortunately, the only effect was an embarrassing realization that I was a poor example to someone who looked up to me and a poor example to the adult who knew I should have acted more responsibly. Thankfully I can apologize to them and make more responsible driving choices in the future. Luckily my choice to disobey the law did not cause greater harm or injury to one of my daughter’s classmates. I couldn’t fix that result.

I’m happy to say that I turned right this morning. Thanks “M.”


There are No “Accidents”

May 14, 2013
Someone Screwed Up

UPDATE: I came across this picture on a desk calendar and it seemed appropriate to incorporate into this post.

SPOILER ALERT: This post may be a little jaded to the “plaintiff’s attorney” side of me. But, if you hear me out, I believe you (even you defense attorneys out there) will get my point, and maybe even agree with it.

Too often the public refers to car crashes as “accidents.” Feel free to disagree with me, but to me an accident is an unexpected incident over which one has absolutely no control. An accident is something that happens to a three year old that pees on grandma’s new carpet. Contrast that innocent occurrence with the conscious choices made by drivers on our roads every day.

When a person gets behind the wheel of a car, he or she agrees to follow certain laws. I won’t talk specifically about those laws here–we know them well enough. I want to talk generally though about the commonly understood rules that we all understand and would, hopefully, agree to be true.  For example:

  • A driver is not allowed to needlessly endanger the public.
  • A driver must pay attention at all times or he needlessly endangers the public.
  • A driver must obey the speed limit at all times or he needlessly endangers the public.
  • A driver must not drive if he is distracted (cell phone, radio, etc.) or he needlessly endangers the public.
  • A driver must not drive while intoxicated or he needlessly endangers the public.

If a person consciously chooses to violate one of these (or other) safety rules, and causes a crash, how can we as a society call that an “accident?” I can think of no situation (excepting maybe an act of God or an unforeseen emergency) where a car crash occurs absent somebody’s violation of a safety rule–someone didn’t pay attention, someone was speeding, someone didn’t look, someone was drunk, whatever.  A deliberate conscious decision by a driver that needlessly endanger the public is not an accident. It is a dangerous choice that all too often results in serious injuries to the public.

If we are ever going to see a reduction in the astronomically high number of car crashes, we are going to have to demand more accountability from ourselves and from other drivers. We need to make the decision to follow the laws, follow the rules, and pay attention to other drivers.

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