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One day a mother was giving thanks, the next she was mourning the loss of her two teenage daughters killed in an auto accident.  The two girls were on their way home when an Illinois state trooper slammed into their Mazda 6. Traveling in excess of 120 mph, the trooper hit a culvert pipe that sent his cruiser airborne and through the top of the Mazda.  The girls died instantly.

At first it appeared to be a tragic accident with a trooper responding to a call. But, an investigation revealed the trooper had been called off the accident he was responding to, but didn’t know because he was on his cell phone with his girlfriend and sending emails on his computer moments before the crash.  The investigation also revealed this was the trooper’s third accident resulting from negligence.  He was charged with two counts of reckless homicide and aggravated reckless driving, and sentenced to 30 months probation; there was no jail time.

That was six years ago.  Kim Schau says she is not bitter toward police, and she is not against pursuits or exceeding the speed limit on emergency response calls when truly warranted. All she wants is for officers to think about the possible consequences  of their decisions, to not take on distractions like cell phones, and not drive faster than is safe.  That is why Schau feels it is important to travel around the country sharing her message of safety to those who are sworn to serve and protect. “If I save just one life, that’s enough because no life is worth losing over something so preventable like this,” she said.

Ms. Schau’s efforts are paying off.  Some agencies have significantly tightened their driving restrictions and individual officers have told Schau that her message has made them more cautious.  The Illinois state police director issued changes on pursuits, including no personal cell phones in the vehicles and troopers’ business phones must be hands-free devices.  Additionally, once the speed reaches a certain level, officers are not allowed to use any electronics.

At the end of every presentation, Schlau leaves listeners with the same thoughts.  Because distracted driving is not limited to police officers, I felt her message was important to share with all my readers:  “Ask yourself, ‘If my family was on this road ahead of me, would I continue driving the way I am?’”

Mark Bello has thirty-six years experience as a trial lawyer and fourteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice, Public Citizen, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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