We were looking for answers, but we discovered a completely broken system
After the car crash, two helicopters airlifted my son and another passenger to the hospital for multiple surgeries. The driver and two other people were also transported to a closer facility for operations and multiple night stays in the hospital. After 31 days of hope and setbacks, we lost Evan in front of our eyes.
The driver claimed he fell asleep at the wheel and that’s why the collision occurred. People visiting us in the hospital asked if the cause of the crash could be attributed to texting and driving. After all, this happened on a daunting, windy road and it was during morning rush hour traffic. Sleeping appeared unlikely to me and many others. Honestly, I didn’t care what the cause was, because we had more pressing matters to deal with. Besides, I had confindence the police would do their job investigating the circumstances and I would focus on my job of advocating for my son while he fought for his life.
What I learned is that there is no protocol in place to effectively investigate distracted driving crashes.
Though my own civil lawsuit, I subpoenaed the cellphone records and not only discovered texting activity during that drive, but also, that the phone was still in the car for weeks after the crash - just sitting in a junkyard. The police never looked for the phone nor the phone records; this revelation had to come from my own efforts.
At first I thought there was a faulty investigation but what I surprisingly discovered was that there is nothing in place.
We unwittingly discovered a whole broken system.
- There are few laws in place
- Police have no official protocol
- Police are instructed to avoid viewing the phones at crashes (for privacy concerns) relying on UNLIKELY eyewitness accounts or confessions of device use
- The activity is nearly impossible to prosecute (only a handful of people have served jail time even for killing people and when they have - it has mostly been for a few months or less)
- There is little urgency among lawmakers to effectively address the problem
- Statistics are dramatically underreporting the damage (less than 1% texting crashes according to DMV statistics).
- The public is completely unaware of the damage that is being done
THE HUGE MISCONCEPTIONS:
Critics have stated solutions are not needed because there are already systems in place. That is erroneous and very dangerous because it conveys a false sense of security that a very serious problem is being addressed…. Yet we are now at a 50-year high in car crashes.
- Phones are examined at collisions
- NO. PHONES ARE NOT INVESTIGATED.
- Police do not view phones for privacy concerns. They are instructed that unless there is a fatality or serious crash it is not worth the time, cost or effort to investigate. A current investigation involves obtaining a warrant - which entails signatures from both prosecutors and judges. Think about the Lieberman’s where a helicopter came to take two boys away and neither the phone nor phone records were investigated.
- Imagine If investigations of drunk driving occurred only when there were fatalities. Would we have seen the improvement we have experienced over the last decade?
- Phone records are obtained after collisions
- NO. PHONE RECORDS ARE RARELY RECEIVED.
- Ask your local police how many times they have subpoenaed a phone record. We have asked a room full of police chiefs and the answer is zero to very rarely.
- Phone Records are not effective anyway. Phones records are extremely limited to texts and phone calls. A simple email will not appear on phone records nor will other popular distracting activities like social media, taking selfies or Pokemon Go.
- Verizon and AT&T are a private company and not law enforcement. Remember how polarizing the country was when the FBI asked Apple to help with the San Bernardino Terrorist’s IPhone?
IF YOU BELIEVE THERE IS A DISTRACTED DRVING PROBLEM, IT IS IMPORTANT TO REALIZE THAT THERE ARE NO EFFECTIVE INVESTIGATIONS OR DETERRENTS IN PLACE. WE WANT TO CHANGE THAT.
Don’t assume more drivers on the road are causing the record number of crashes.