That girl in the car next to you at the stop light looking down into her lap is texting. She’s also stealing $30,000 from someone. But how can that be? It’s easy. We know she is eventually going to cause a crash. It might be you in the other car trying desperately to swerve onto the shoulder and avoid her as she drifts into your lane. Could be your Mom. Your son. Could be anyone. When the front left bumper of her car smashes into the driver side of your car, there will be injuries. Because of the angle of impact, you’ll probably break your left ankle; maybe shatter your left tibia and fibula; probably sustain a fracture dislocation of your left hip; your neck and shoulders will ache for weeks and if you’re in the unlucky 15% of people who never recover from neck injuries, the headaches and neck pain will continue for the rest of your life on a daily, constant and unremitting basis. When that happens, you’ll want to be treated fairly and compensated for what you’ve lost. Here in Ontario, there’s a $30,000 deductible on your body for injuries sustained in a car crash. When that girl’s insurance company pays your claim, it gets to hold back the first $30,000 that you are awarded for pain and suffering (general damages).
Bet you didn’t know that.
Now that you do know that, what are you going to do? As a first step, I recommend that you make sure that you are never that girl. Leave the phone in the back seat. Put it in the trunk. Go buy a Volkswagen Passat with the fancy Bluetooth connection to your iPhone. Whatever you do, never look into your lap while driving again.
Is there anything else you can do? I think so. Ask your Member of Parliament what’s happening to toughen up penalties for texting and driving. Your MP is at every summer barbecue involving more than 8 people. They begin campaigning for the next election before they’ve collected the lawn signs from the last one. Make them earn their bread. Tell them that the current fines have no teeth. How about seizing the individual’s phone? How about a real fine – one that amounts to more than a licence to take the risk. $1,000 might be a good start. Next, write a letter to the local Chief of Police and ask what’s being done to enforce the rules we have.
Don’t wait until you’re sitting in my office telling me about how wonderful your Dad was before a distracted driver killed him. Texting behind the wheel will threaten to kill as many or more of your friends and family in the next decade than drinking and driving. Save a life by speaking out. It could be your own.