On Oct. 10 2015, the Edwards family called an Uber to take them to the engagement party of their brother and son, Clayton Edwards. Irene, Kate, and Rick Edwards got into the Uber along with Kate’s fiancé, David Foy.
Tragically, none of the family made it to the rehearsal dinner that night. Mother and daughter Irene and Kate Edwards died from injuries in a horrific car crash when the driver took his eyes off the road to set up a ride with a Lyft customer.
Driver Kevin Eldredge’s Nissan Altima struck a Chrysler minivan on Palm Valley Boulevard when he made a left turn.
McMinn Law Firm has filed a lawsuit against Lyft on behalf of the surviving members in the crash, David Foy and Rick Edwards.The family seeks a settlement with Lyft, citing that the company failed to design a safe app.
The rideshare company allowed drivers to use another app while operating their vehicle with passengers – a function engineers say is now disabled. A safer app could have saved lives the night of Clayton Edwards’ wedding reception.
“There would have never been a collision and these people would be alive today.”
– Personal Injury Attorney, Jason McMinn
The two surviving victims of the Round Rock crash were hospitalized, including Rick Edwards, the husband of Irene Edwards and father of Kate Edwards. David Foy, the fiancé of Kate Edwards was also hospitalized following the fatal crash.
Is Ridesharing really a safer alternative?
During the Uber ride, driver Kevin Eldredge acted on an allowable function of the app. Distracted driving cost a mother and daughter their lives, and their loved ones robbed a future with them.
Their ride took place before a rule that was put in place in May 2016. At that time both Uber and Lyft held the bulk of the market for rideshares in Austin. Since then, both Uber and Lyft have stopped operations inside the city of Austin after a hotly contested debate in the city over compliance with fingerprint background checks. It is clear that the city of Austin feels that they value safety when entering the vehicle of a transportation-networking app driver.
Since the May 2016 decision, both competitors pulled out of Austin. However they still operate in the Austin-metro area where this crash took place.
Serious consequences of distracted driving
Many riders opt to use rideshare services because they have been marketed as safe. Calling a hired driver is one way of planning ahead, reducing DWI, and having a “designated driver.” Lyft has partnered with Anheuser-Busch to market against drinking and driving. Uber even has a campaign with MADD to end drunk driving. But while operating in the Austin area, neither app was designed to protect against the dangerous practice of distracted driving.
This case with Lyft can act as an important reminder to companies that safety is important to the communities in and around Austin, TX. Distracted driving isn’t just a statistic. The sudden loss of a loved one due to distracted driving is devastating for the family and communities it impacts.
Lyft Distracted Driving Lawsuit Coverage:
- KXAN News | Family of mother, daughter killed in crash sue Lyft.
- KVUE News | Family sues Lyft, saying distracted driver crashed, killing mother and daughter
- Austin American Statesman | Lawsuit claims Lyft driver in fatal wreck was distracted by app | By Courts Reporter Ryan Autullo
Dangers of Distracted Driving
In this session of Texas legislature the House has an opportunity to pass a bill that could prohibit cell phone use in the vehicle across the state. Proponents show how many lives could be saved by deterring drivers from engaging in risky driving behaviors. Some opponents of the bill say that it would limit Texan’s freedoms.
We’ve seen the consequences of distracted driving and know that no text or social media post is worth the cost of a life. Measures like House Bill 62 can help save lives in Texas.
Dangerous Driving Habits to Avoid
- Driving tired: Some studies have shown that driving tired can be as dangerous as driving while drunk. Losing sleep can reduce reaction times and impair judgment. If you’re on a road trip, plan ahead on where to stay, take shifts, and pull over at a rest stop if you need to.
- Speeding: No appointment is worth the risk of losing your own life or ending someone else’s. Speeding poses serious risks for other drivers and pedestrians sharing the roadway.
- Distracted Driving: This nationwide epidemic claimed 3,179 lives in 2014 alone. 71% of young people say they have sent a text while driving. Living in a digital world can keep us connected, but no text is worth a life or even an injury.
Because texting while driving requires visual, manual and cognitive attention it is very dangerous. Most states have laws prohibiting use of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle.
Talk to members in your family about distracted driving. Take the pledge to be a distraction free driver. Be an example to others and speak up when you see someone using their phone in their car.