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Old Problem, New Reason

By Shannon in News on Dec 10, 2006 4:35PM

Chicagoist is one of those proud, transit-taking people who don't own a car. For the slight inconvenience of not being able to go where we want at all times, we avoid road rage, trying to find parking, the eternal driver vs. bicyclist debate, and being rammed by inattentive motorists. Friday, an Arlington Heights woman was awarded $4.1 million as a result of being hit by a man who blew a red light. The reason? He was lost and trying to look for directions on his BlackBerry.

crackberryOn Sep. 27, 2005, Don Svec was driving around the northwest suburb when he became lost. Fumbling with his BlackBerry, his company van ran a red light at Dryden and Rand Roads. 70-year-old Dorothy Barnes, driving a Saturn, interrupted Svec's accelerated forward motion something awful. She required five surgeries, including two on her neck; she now has metal sticking out of her pelvis for structural stability. (Ow.) At the time, Svec was merely cited for running the light; use of the handheld device came out later. Due to Barnes' advanced age, the trial was moved up considerably, and both parties agreed on the settlement before trial even started.

Here's our beef. We doubt this story would have gotten the extended Sun-Times writeup that it did if it hadn't been for the BlackBerry angle. Anything he did while lost could have caused that crash: He could have been looking at a map, reading directions he'd printed out for himself, etc. In fact, we wonder if the settlement would have been as large as it was if a BlackBerry hadn't been involved. (To be fair, if that were the case, then we probably wouldn't be covering the incident.) We could be off the mark, but with distractions from handhelds and mobile phones being such a hot-button issue, we feel that much can be reaped from their malignance.

Image via Wikipedia.