Was driver in fatal SF shuttle bus crash distracted by victim?

Posted on in Wrongful Death

Distracted driving is the cause of many an accident, and the target of new traffic laws popping up all over the country. Cellphone use while driving is being banned in various degrees, and teenagers in many states are not allowed to drive with more than one non-family member in the car to prevent them from getting into an accident.

The reasoning is simple: If you're not giving your full attention to the road, you aren't driving safely. If you aren't driving safely, you could get into a serious accident. That seems to be what happened when a University of California San Francisco shuttle bus collided with an 18-wheeler in July, killing one of the shuttle's passengers. The 64-year-old driver of the shuttle, who is scheduled to be arraigned in February on charges of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, says he was distracted just before the accident by a conversation with that same passenger moments before the crash, according to new court documents.

The driver ran a red light and collided with the truck, whose driver tried to stop but couldn't do so in time. The victim was thrown from the vehicle and died of his injuries. The shuttle didn't have seat belts, and isn't required to by law. But it's the third significant crash involving a UCSF vehicle in nine months. The crash led to the installation of seat belts in all UCSF buses as well as a review of its shuttle operations.

The family of the 52-year-old victim, who was an associate professor at UCSF, could decide to file a wrongful death suit against the driver. The question then is whether the driver will blame the victim for his own death, allegedly caused by their distracting conversation.

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