If there is one thing as common as the use of cell phones, it’s concerns about the safety of cell phones. We worry about the safety of our information on cell phones -- as they may get “smarter”, so do their hackers. Scientists even disagree about their effect on our health – maybe they cause cancer, maybe they don’t. But one thing we know for sure: cell phone use does and has led to an increase in traffic accidents and fatalities. This is why more and more states have enacted laws regarding cell use while operating a vehicle. Today, most are aware not only of the physical risks, but that we risk tickets, fines, and even jail time. There is little doubt that such a driver can also be held liable for any damages and injuries they cause. But in a recent surprising lawsuit, the question was raised, “Can the person on the other end of the line be held equally liable?”
The recent crash of the Costa Concordia cruise ship stunned even veteran cruise travelers and boating enthusiasts. Disturbing pictures of the listing ship are often accompanied by the rhetorical tagline: “Too big to sink?” In fact, the ship’s mammoth size and relative newness made the crash all the more shocking. Launched in 2006, the Costa Concordia was able to comfortably carry over 4,000 passengers and crew, was in excellent shape, and outfitted with modern sailing and safety technology. Despite having, in theory, everything needed to keep her passengers safe, this mammoth ship was undone by the same flaw that often causes such accidents: human error.
In 2007, actor Dennis Quaid and his wife became the proud parents of twins. Their joy quickly turned to fear when treatment for an infection resulted in the twins receiving a massive overdose of a blood thinner. The twins recovered, but Quaid went on to sue the drug maker due to his belief that incorrect labeling led to his children’s and other patients’ dangerous overdosing. Sadly, the case of the Quaid family is far from an isolated incident. Injuries and death from incorrectly administered medications occurs far more often that people may be aware.
When people discuss safety on public transportation, the conversation tends to focus on protecting ourselves from crime. We are advised to be aware of suspicious characters, to secure your belongings against theft, to report abandoned packages, etc. However, what about our safety from the vehicle itself? When we ride public transport, we trust that the operators of these vehicles have our best interests at heart. We have faith in the professionalism of not only the company that runs the vehicle and its operators, but also the city, state and national government entities devoted to the oversight of our safety. And yet, preventable accidents continue to occur.