We ran across a story from Minnesota that broke our hearts. It also got us thinking.
Toward the end of November 2013, a young woman’s car crashed into a holding pond off a highway ramp. She was able to escape, but it would take half an hour for rescuers to reach the five children, age 7 and under, that were in the car with her. Two of the children died. The three survivors spent months in the hospital recovering.
The children were all part of the blended family of the 23-year-old driver and her boyfriend. She was taking them to school or to daycare or something, following a route she had driven before. But she was driving with just a learner’s permit.
Minnesota, like California, requires an adult driver with an instruction permit to be accompanied by at least one other adult driver. Both states require drivers to have auto insurance, but this young woman had none. Both states also require young children — under age 7 in California, under age 8 in Minnesota — to be in car seats or booster seats. This was not the case in this accident.
The driver has been sentenced to 30 days in the workhouse and a year of probation. The family’s problems go well beyond the criminal charges, though. Without insurance and with modest means, the family will likely be paying off medical bills for years to come.
It is hard to get past the tragedy of it all. It is our business, though, to look at accidents like this and to think about how they would play out in California. It is our job to remind our readers about state laws meant to keep drivers and their passengers safe. It is our job to educate our readers about how to protect themselves from financial ruin if they are involved in an accident like this.
We will get into those details in our next post.