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Best injury advice? Don’t crash in the first place

Ready for a trick question?

You’re driving between Kelowna and Westbank and you pass by a speed sign indicating a maximum speed of 80 kms per hour.  At what speed are you permitted to drive?

If the RCMP only issue tickets to drivers going more than 10 kms over the speed limit, then the permitted speed is 90 kms per hour, right?

As much as that might be the prevailing notion of motorists, I expect that most of you would say that the permitted speed would be 80 kms per hour.

Now for my Borat attempt at humour:…pause….pause….pause….NOT.  See the movie.  It’s hilarious.

The right answer is that it all depends on the circumstances.

What about if there was a pack of two year olds bumbling along the shoulder of the highway?

How about if, as described in the Carrie Underwood tune that my three year old refers to as the “baby in the back seat” song, you’re driving on a thin black sheet of glass?

Did I fall into my own trap?  Have I not been careful enough in my choice of words?  I did ask what speed was permitted – not what speed was reasonable.

The suspense of possibly catching a lawyer being imprecise in wording would be a lot more compelling if this wasn’t a written column.

Let me introduce you to section 144(1)(c) of the Motor Vehicle Act

A person must not drive a motor vehicle on a highway at a speed that is excessive relative to the road, traffic, visibility or weather conditions.

You can Google it to see it for yourself, or to find some more light reading.  Have your pillow ready before you start reading our provincial statutes.

By the way, section 119 defines “traffic” to include pedestrians: the bumbling two year olds.

Can you be fined for running afoul of section 144(1)(c)?  You betcha.  You can also be thrown in jail.  The fine is a minimum $100.00, maximum $2,000.00, and you could be tossed in the clink for 6 months.

Perhaps you are wondering why you’re reading about speed limits and fines in a column about injury claims.

This isn’t about saving you a fine or some time in jail.  Heck with the quasi criminal sanctions.  Driving at a speed that is excessive in the circumstances is dangerous.  It causes crashes.  It hurts people.

I see the aftermath of car crashes every day.  I see how chronic crash injuries destroy lives and relationships.  For me, car crashes don’t just happen to anonymous people.

Like minded lawyers are available to go up against the big insurance companies to achieve the imperfect justice of financial compensation for crash injuries.  The very best justice, however, is achieved by preventing the crashes from occurring in the first place.  You don’t have to pay contingency fees for that justice.

Published August 12, 2007 in the Kelowna Capital News

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