In today’s Birmingham News, there were two letters to the editor. One is entitled, “Follow basic driving rules“, and the other is, “Be courteous when driving“. Each article discusses driving and safety. Examples: driving the speed limit, don’t tailgate, keep your lights on in the rain, don’t use your cell phone, and use your turn signals.
What are these individuals really saying? Don’t drive negligently. What does that mean? It means that when you drive on the public roadways, you have a duty to others to abide by the rules of the road and to pay attention and not cause “accidents” (it’s in quotes because had the person who caused the “accident” been paying attention, the “accident” wouldn’t have happened). When you breach that duty, you are responsible for the damages you cause.
Because so many people fail to drive responsibly, we carry insurance on our cars. That way, when we cause these collisions (more proper term than “accidents”), we can afford to compensate the victim who was driving responsibly.
Unfortunately, people like the ones who wrote the letters to the editor don’t put their money where their mouth is. When these people sit on juries, they seem to forget these “Basic Driving Rules.” That is the way citizens can enforce these driving rules. When jurors render low verdicts, they don’t send a message to the public that when you fail to pay attention while you are driving, you will pay a price. Money talks, and people will start to listen if jurors will realize they have the power to affect change.
When people realize that they will be responsible for SIGNIFICANT damages if they cause accidents, they will drive more carefully. When they realize that their insurance rates will increase, they will drive more carefully. As it stands, however, jury verdicts are low. These same people who preach driving safety, do not act accordingly. Next time you sit on a jury in a car “accident” case, put your money where your mouth is, and tell the person, “You need to drive more carefully.”