by John Robertson
I must admit, the Collegiate Times op-eds have been interesting, of late. I support many of the ideas aired by concerned students in this forum.
This week, alone, there was a letter to the student body to become informed on global issues, an exhortation to the judiciary to preserve Miranda warnings, an admonition to recognize the privilege of your education and a plea to refrain from excreting your bodily fluids in, on, or around public facilities as if you were a jungle creature marking its territory. All good advice.
I?ll add yet another item to this growing list of requests to become, in general, more considerate, educated, and aware ? please stop trying to kill yourselves and each other when you drive around here or anywhere else, for that matter.
I regard this as one of the most important acts of consideration you could show to your fellow students, much less the surrounding community.
I?m asking you this as your attorney. I know generalizations never hold true but I?m not just basing this request on personal observation of your driving habits. I?m not even basing it on the fact that I see hundreds of you in my office every year for speeding and reckless driving offenses.
Other folks share the opinion you, as a group, drive dangerously.
For example, all insurance companies regard you as a high-risk group. That?s why your premiums are even more expensive than, say, the total cost of all your textbooks, each year. That?s gazillions of dollars. (I exaggerate for effect.)
Most rental car companies will not allow you to rent cars until you reach age 25.
If you ask local police, judges, politicians, and residents what they think of student driving behavior, chances are excellent they first, will laugh. Then they may direct your attention to surrounding residential roads where residents attempted to erect barricades of speed bumps, warning signs, reduced-speed-limit signs, and other obstacles nearly every 30 feet in the hopes of slowing you down. (Yes, this is an exaggeration . . . but not as much as you think.)
Don?t think there?s a problem? I invite you to watch, from the (relative) safety of the sidewalk, the morning commute, and the scramble at 7:55 a.m. in the commuter lots at Virginia Tech.
It?s like watching a live action event that?s part formula-car racing, part battle bots. It?s frightening to see the multiple-car accidents in those 15- or 25- or 35-mph zones, where accidents are so severe it may appear as if the vehicles involved (sometimes three or four!) were dropped from the sky. (Again: no exaggeration.)
You might be laughing until I share the costs with you.
First, you might be subject to criminal penalties when you go to court, maybe resulting in the loss of your license for up to a year, a steep fine, or (in some cases) jail time.
In a neighboring county, even if you have no previous traffic offenses, the judge will jail you if you were going over 88 mph on the interstate. This trend is catching on with many judges.
Next, if you are at fault, you might have to pay top dollar to have the other party?s vehicle fixed. Even simple dents and scratches could cost you thousands of dollars. If you contest the matter, add thousands of additional dollars in legal fees and court costs. Do you have an extra $5,000 lying around? Didn?t think so.
If you aren?t at fault, you will not be compensated for what you believe your vehicle to be worth.