The tragic story has been all over the headlines for the last several days: Hollywood actor and star of the well-known film series “The Fast and the Furious,” Paul Walker, is dead at 40 years old. The facts surrounding the actor’s untimely death are an ominous reminder of the risk and responsibility we take every day when getting behind the wheel of a car: speed, inattention, inexperience, and distraction can take a life in an instant.
Walker, a self-proclaimed “speed demon,” was an adrenaline junkie who enjoyed driving fast cars and once stated that he has driven as fast at 197 miles per hour. Preliminary investigative reports indicate that speed was indeed a factor in the November 30, 2013 crash that claimed both Walker’s life and that of the driver, Roger Rodas. Fortunately, this accident only involved one car: the red 2005 Porsche Carrera GT that Rodas was driving and more people were not injured or killed.
Because Paul Walker was a celebratory, his story shines into the public light. The truth, however, is that average drivers around the country fall victim to fatal automobile accidents, both as drivers and passengers, every single day. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, over 2,400 people were killed last year as the result of an automobile accident in the state of Florida. Toxicology reports on both Walker and Rodas are scheduled to be released today. Those reports will provide some insight as to whether drugs or alcohol had any part in their November 30, 2013 accident. However, alcohol is not always to blame. Of the over 2,400 automobile fatalities in Florida last year, only 805─less than half─cited alcohol as the contributing factor. This statistic indicates that other factors─be it inexperience, distracted driving, or perhaps as was the case with Walker and Rodas─an inherent desire for speed that can play a role in one’s untimely demise.
One of the downfalls of The Fast and the Furious film series was that it instilled in an entire generation of young drivers the yearning to go fast. Since the first film’s debut in 2000, young fans have idealized Paul Walker and his Fast and the Furious character, Brian O’Conner, as the poster child for the type of glory and excitement that drag racing can bring to those who can learn to handle a fast car. This type of glorification is frightening when statistics show that last year in Florida there were over 34,000 car accidents involving teenagers. Young drivers often feel they are invincible behind the wheel and are too young to truly appreciate their own mortality. The result is a significant increase in teen automobile crashes over the last three years, with an increase of over 6,000 accidents over the last year.
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Paul Walker’s accident also illustrates that age and inexperience behind the wheel are not the only pitfalls facing drivers. Both Walker and Rodas were 40 and 38 respectively with ample driving experience. Even so, they too became victims of the ever increasing statistics of crash fatalities in this country. Fame, fortunate and a love for the road could not insulate Paul Walker from becoming another casualty of the road. While it is fortunate that no bystanders or other drivers were victims of this accident, that is not always the case. Often times the lives of safe and innocent drivers are compromised by the inexperience or distracted driving of another on the road. As drivers, it is a risk that we all take when entering the roadways. If the time comes when you are faced with life altering injuries as the result of another driver’s inattentiveness on the road, you need an advocate with experience in handling these matters, and with the compassion to understand just how difficult these situations can be. The attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are advocates for the injured. If you have been injured by the fault of another driver on the road, please call us today at 727-451-6900.