Whenever you step behind the wheel, you accept a duty to drive safely and obey the rules of the road. If you're carrying passengers, you also accept a responsibility to keep them safe from harm. People who consume controlled substances beforehand or take unnecessary risks while driving are sending a message to their passengers that they don't care about their safety. For that, a driver can face multiple serious consequences in the event of a car accident.
A 19-year-old woman from Aptos, California, is accused of flouting that responsibility when she got in her car with six passengers last Friday. According to the California Highway Patrol, it was close to midnight when she was speeding down a road and attempted to pass another vehicle in a no-passing zone on a blind curve. She lost control and the car struck a tree, killing one of her passengers. Two other passengers suffered major injuries, and the other three were moderately injured. All of the passengers were in their late teens or early 20s.
The driver, who was also taken to a hospital for what were described as extensive injuries, was charged with suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, causing death and injuries to passengers.
Although it's unclear where the group was headed, a large group of young adults in one vehicle on a Friday night suggests they were either going out for or coming back from a night of fun. As a result of the driver's actions, it will be some time before most of them can enjoy themselves again. In the meantime, the driver could be hit with one or more civil lawsuits in addition to the criminal charge she's facing. Any one of her passengers or the family of the passenger who died could file a lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death, serving as a grim reminder of the heavy responsibility we take on whenever we get behind the wheel.
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, "Aptos woman arrested in fatal crash," Jessica M. Pasko, Jan. 14, 2012
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