ATLANTA – An Atlanta City Council member is calling for stricter penalties for super speeders after her colleague was severely injured by a driver racing on the interstate.
Erica Pines says she had just merged onto I-285 S from I-75 S in July when a driver, who witnesses said was racing with another driver, came into her lane and slammed into the front of her car.
“I slammed into a wall. I started spinning … I hit the wall and I spun out like four times. Probably between a quarter of a mile and half a mile down the road,” Pines said.
Pines says she was on her way to Atlanta from Cherokee County to meet her 19-year-old cousin, for whom she is a caregiver, when she was hit by a driver going well over the speed limit.
(Credit: Erica Pines)
“All I could think about was her, because I’m one of her caregivers. And I said, “I can’t die right now.’ That’s all it was. ‘I can’t die right now because I have an obligation to my community. I have an obligation to my family, and I have an obligation to those who love me,” she said.
The other driver walked away without a scratch, while she had to be taken to the hospital with severe injuries.
“I had a facial fracture here. Bruises and cuts all along my body. I had a big seatbelt gash right here. Once we figured out the leg thing, it was called a pilon fracture. And that’s one of the worse fractures you could have. The fracture was so bad, they literally were looking at possible amputation,” Pines said.
(Credit: Erica Pines)
Her other wounds have since healed, but her leg remains badly damaged.
“I haven’t been able to put any weight on my leg since July 28. I cannot walk at all. This foot cannot touch the ground, and we’re still not sure when I will be able to walk again,” Pines said.
She says her doctors have told her that even when she does walk again, she’ll likely only regain about 50-percent of her mobility.
The driver who hit her was cited at the scene for reckless driving and improper lane change.
Pines has since learned this was not his first time being cited for reckless driving.
She worries without stricter penalties, he’ll likely do it again.
“There’s nothing to deter him from doing this again. I went in an ambulance, all the witnesses said that they were road racing, and he was simply given a ticket and allowed to go on about his business,” Pines said.
Atlanta City Council member Keisha Waites agrees.
“It is apparent that our current laws on the books are not working,” Waites said.
That’s why she’s put forward a proposal to urge the state legislature to pass harsher penalties for “violations like drag/street racing, reckless driving, or exceeding unsafe speed limits (100 mph).”
The first offense would carry a five-year driver’s license suspension, the second a 10-year suspension and a lifetime license revocation on the third offense.
“This is simply a tool to keep the public-at-large safe and to send a very strong message that we are not going to tolerate this behavior within the city of Atlanta,” Waites said.
State Representative Stacey Evans says after she heard what happened to Pines she also wants stronger penalties, but she says Waites proposal might be difficult to get passed into law.
“I am supportive of looking for solutions. But, an immediate five-year suspension on a first offense is a hard pill to swallow. And I think would be a hard pill for the entire legislature,” Evans said.
Evans says even if it’s not exactly what Council member Waites proposed, she will be pushing for some form of stricter penalties for reckless and super speeding drivers.
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