We Save Lives was recently called upon to work with the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association and support HB7126 AAC that would increase the damages that could be awarded to an injured person following a distracted driving crash. We were only too happy to help hold distracted drivers accountable for their irresponsible choices. The following are letters of support from We Save Lives and one of our Connecticut survivors, Vinny Carbone.
To: Members of the Judiciary Committee
Re: HB7126 AAC the Award of Double or Treble Damages to an injured party in a Civil Action Resulting from Certain Traffic Violations
Several years ago, while travelling back to Florida from Virginia I had to stop because there were crews working in the area. I happened to look up in my rearview window when I saw a car fast approaching and was faced with the horror the driver wasn’t going to stop. I had nowhere to move and braced myself for the impact. I was terrified that I would die. When they pulled me out of the car, the driver, a nurse admitted she was driving distracted. I ended up with a broken back, a lifetime of pain and a totaled car. She ended up with a traffic ticket. As the founder of MADD and now We Save Lives, I realized that if I could make a difference in the attitudes towards drunk driving that I could work with others to accomplish the same with distracted driving.
We Save Lives is a national non-profit whose mission is to support and promote solution driven policies and programs that save lives by changing dangerous driving choices through viral awareness, education, advocacy and partnerships.
We are in strong support of this measure and would like to be advocate sponsors of the bill and partners in its passage.
It is appalling that the civil sanctions for distracted driving which kills and injures thousands every year pale in comparison to that of drunk and drugged driving. This is a crime that can happen to anyone at any time of the day. On your way home, I bet you can count the number of people on mobile devices completely oblivious to the havoc they are causing on our roadways. These irresponsible and reckless drivers should be held accountable to the full extent of the law.
Distracted driving kills at least 9 women, men and children every day and injures at least 1,000. These figures are grossly underestimated due to the inadequacy of our laws but they are all we have. Distracted driving is not an accident but a choice that drivers make despite knowing the potential consequences.
With distracted driving outpacing driving under the influence as the major cause of life-threatening highway crashes any increased deterrent and help for victims is a move in the right direction.
We look forward to working with the committee on passing this important legislation.
Candace Lightner, President, We Save Lives
Founder Mothers Against Drunk Driving
On April 23, 2017, Courtney Sanford snapped a “selfie” with her phone while driving and she shared it on Facebook at 10:33am. At 10:34 am the first 911 call was made. Investigators say 32-
year-old Courtney Ann Sanford was posting to Facebook seconds before she crossed the median and crashed head-on into a 12-ton truck and died. A distracted driver is one who plays Russian
Roulette with their life. It is only a matter of time when this risky game of being distracted while driving claims its next victim.
On April 17, 2015, a distracted driver played Russian Roulette with my life. The three seconds before the head-on crash plays over in my mind constantly. At first, I was totally confused as to why someone was coming at me in my lane. Wasted seconds. The sides of the road had guardrails along them. “Where do I go!?” I screamed to my wife. Wasted seconds. Those few seconds happened so quick and yet I am now living out the repercussions for the rest of my life. My wife sustained nine broken bones and I had twenty. Many of my bones were crushed to ‘sand’ as my surgeon told me. I died on the way to the hospital and I died later that night on the operating table. I just had my 29th surgical procedure the Tuesday before Thanksgiving last year. I gained a lot during that time period. I had ten blood transfusions and radiation treatment on my arm and knee. I have a new left hip, right knee, right elbow, left elbow and left shoulder. My right leg is now shorter than my left. I live in constant pain and I attend continual rehabilitation. I now walk about fifty feet before the pain is too great and I need to sit. I spend most of my day in a wheel chair. I have lost all of the use of my left arm and hand. I only have partial use of my right arm and hand. I missed my triplets’ graduation because I spent four months in the hospital. My teacher salary was cut to 60 % when I went on the town’s disability insurance. And, I lost my town’s family health insurance that year. I had a chance to buy in at close to $30,000 a year. This all happened during a time when I had four children in college- my triplets and an older brother. To get a full account of my story, you can read my book titled, Distracted Driving…crosses the line.
My nightmare occurred because someone was more self-absorbed with their own pleasure.
The New York Times ran this article on Nov. 15, 2016. “Tech Distractions Blamed for Rise in Traffic Fatalities.” In the first six months of 2016, there were 17,775 highway deaths. After steady declines over the last four decades, highway fatalities last year recorded the largest annual percentage increase in 50 years.
NBC ran a story February 25, 2017. “Your Car Insurance Rates Are Going Up Because Everyone Keeps Texting and Driving” “Every American is going to pay more because of the distracted driving epidemic,” said Robert Hartwig, co-director of the Center for Risk and Uncertainty Management at the University of South Carolina.
Your job as legislatures is to ensure the safety and protection of all who drive Connecticut’s roads. Everyone is being impacted by distracted drivers today. Raised bill 7126 is an important first step toward making Connecticut roads safer. No person or family should have to endure the pain my family and I have endured. Let us begin now by taking back our roads.