Under the Hat: Safe Behavior - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Under the Hat: Safe Behavior

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Buried inside a local tragedy is what some see as more proof of eroding personal freedoms due to a well- meaning but heavy handed society.

This came up at the sentencing of Kristin Graves, a young mother of two charged with a fatal DUI accident that killed her friend Kyle Rohan.

Graves and Rohan were riding in a Jeep down by the Bayfront Highway when the accident happened.

Rohan was ejected from the roofless vehicle and died.

In sentencing Graves to three to eight years, Judge Shad Connelly took into account the fact that Graves was driving impaired, but he also pointed out that as a driver she had a responsibility to make sure her passenger was buckled in, especially in an open Jeep where ejection becomes more of a possibility.

The judge clearly believes she had the moral obligation but the question of legal responsibility is less clear.

Pennsylvania law states that the driver is responsible for himself and anyone in the vehicle under 18 years old.

That would seem to suggest that an unbuckled front seat adult could be cited but not the driver.

But other traffic officers have told me they would have no trouble writing up a driver if they believe the driver allowed a dangerous situation to exist.

"If you're the driver, you're in charge," one told me.

This question of government as Big Nanny has made for some interesting internet comments but we need to focus on the big picture.

One person has died and two children won't have their Mom for significant stretches of time.

Those are far more compelling reasons to operate our vehicles safely than whether society is overreaching in trying to legislate us into that safe behavior.

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