Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law – at least, most of the time. A Los Angeles Times news article reported that California Senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco), pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving. A woman and her child were injured during that May 18 incident when Migden was reportedly driving erratically on the I-80 between Berkley and Sacramento. The Senator was sentenced to two years of probation and was ordered to pay $710 in fines and court fees, the Times reported.
According to the article, California Highway Patrol officials released tapes of 911 calls from several concerned motorists who reported that Migden was weaving in and out of traffic lanes and using her cell phone. Nine callers reported an SUV which matched the description of the vehicle driven by Migden striking a guardrail several times. Callers described her this way: “She is all over the place.” The Senator finally got off the freeway and slammed into a stopped car in Fairfield causing minor injuries to a woman driver and her 3-year-old daughter, the Times article stated.
Migden’s defense? She could only guess that the chemotherapy pills she was taking for leukemia may have caused her erratic driving. Officials did not find Migden to be drunk or intoxicated, but said she was driving at an unsafe speed (80 to 85 mph), made an unsafe turn and was distracted because she was talking on the cell phone. Migden says she is not going to drive again until her doctors give her clearance to do so.
Something about this whole story doesn’t add up to me. Weaving in and out of traffic, nine callers reported striking guardrails several times and leukemia medication, this sounds like the story of a Hollywood starlet, not a State Senator. Seems to me that there is more to this story then we are being told.
Migden is very lucky that she did not cause more serious injuries to the woman or her child. She is fortunate indeed that no other vehicle crossed her path on the freeway. Apparently Migden came out without injuries to herself. And to think that we, the people of the State of California are on the hook for the damages she caused, since we are the registered owners of the car.
Beginning in July 2008, it will become illegal in California to talk on the cell phone while driving unless you use hands-free. This is a law I welcome. Nearly every day I see an on-the-phone driver who is driving distracted. Driving distractions are not to be taken lightly – it could be a matter of life and death. A California Highway Patrol study found that the leading factors causing distracted driving accidents are:
1. Cell phone use 2. Attending to children 3. Eating while driving
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, cell phone use represents the greatest factor in causing distractions while driving. Consider this statistic – distractions contribute to one out of four auto accidents. That’s 4,300 accidents every day and one-and-a-half million accidents a year! Don’t become a part of this statistic. Watch the road and eat the burger before you pull out of the fast food parking lot.