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Your Take: Who Pays the $200?

by J. Money on Friday, April 9, 2010

Police Car LightsSo I’ve been listening to a lot of talk radio in the mornings lately, and today a strange financial situation came up and I thought it would be cool to see how you all interpret it.

The callers to the show seemed to be pretty 50/50, but to ME there was really just ONE clear side (you’ll see what that is in a bit). But as many of you know, I can get persuaded pretty easily when I’m outside my level of expertise ;) So check it out and then let me know what YOU think about it.

The “Situation” (GTL, baby!)

The situation is pretty common I think – Neighbor A picks up Neighbor B’s kid to help drive all the kids to school, or to some event, and Neighbor A tells everyone in the car to buckle up. All fine and dandy so far. BUT, Neighbor A decides to make an illegal U-turn or some other minor infraction w/ the law (can’t remember what, exactly, sorry) and gets pulled over by the PO-lice. And, well, as it turns out Neighbor B’s kid happens to be the ONLY one in the car w/out her seat belt on! This makes Mr. PO-lice pretty upset and encourages him to slap a $200 dollar ticket on Neighbor A’s lap. Ouch.

Now, I wouldn’t have thought too much about the responsibility part of it all here – I woulda just continued on in a super pissed off state of mind – but apparently Driver/Neighbor A decides that it wasn’t HER fault at all that her friend’s kid wasn’t wearing her seat belt. In fact, she believes this so strongly that she wants this kid’s mother (Neighbor B) to split the cost with her! And therein lies the situation.

My Take

The short version: Is that woman for real?
The longer version: Is that woman for real? There is no way I’d ask for my neighbor to front half of that bill. If I did something ILLEGAL and thus got pulled over because of it, it is totally MY fault regardless if little miss sunshine listened to my instructions or not. The whole A caused B to happen effect. Without A, you don’t get your B – pretty simple.

Now, the reason I ask for your all’s input here is because I have yet to produce any of those rug rats myself. I’m sure as hell practicing (hah!) but seeing as how I haven’t raised any kids yet, I may be missing out on a few of the ingredients to this argument. As some of the callers mentioned on the show, if that child was “raised right” they’d never have gotten the ticket to begin with. Apparently this seat belt etiquette is pretty important with kids ;)

So, what do you think about it all? Does Neighbor B need to shell out her half of the $200 to make things right? Or is this just as ridiculous as Philly trading McNabb to the Redskins? (Which btw, I am NOT complaining about – I can’t tell you how excited I am as a Redskins fan!!!)


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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anthony April 9, 2010 at 8:56 am

My response is the same as yours. You couldn’t possibly ask Neighbor B to split the ticket.

Namely, by taking the Neighbor B’s child into your car, you are taking reponsibility of this child. And your direct responsibilty is to ensure the child’s safety.

In the end, the ticket was given NOT because the child didn’t have a seatbelt on. The ticket was given because the driver did not ensure the safety of the passengers in the vehicle. Thinking about it this way, it’s the driver who is responsible for payment of the ticket.

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2 Anthony April 9, 2010 at 9:05 am

Actually, I might contradict myself here by this example. The point is, though, where do you draw the line?

Example: Suppose you take Neighbor B’s child to the park to play with your child. Somehow, Neighbor B’s child gets seriously injured and must go to the hospital. Just to add a twist: Suppose you were egging the children on, motivating them to compete against each other. And this competition was the direct cause of the injury. Who pays for the bill?

In this example, *I* think that Neighbor B would handle the bills (despite the fact that you may have influenced the injury). But with the traffic fine, *I* think you should handle the ticket.

I can’t tell you the difference in my line of thinking here…

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3 BillyOceansEleven April 9, 2010 at 9:05 am

I’m with Anthony on this one. The ticket goes to the driver because as the operator of the vehicle it is her responsibility to ensure the safety of her passengers, including making sure everyone is wearing a seat belt. As children aren’t exactly known for 100% compliance with commands, simply yelling to the back seat for everyone to buckle up doesn’t cut it. She should have looked back to make sure everyone had their seat belt on before getting on the road.

I do think it would be a nice gesture for the other parent to offer to pay half since it was her kid, but ultimately the other parent has no legal or moral responsibility to do so.

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4 Hannah @Cooking Manager April 9, 2010 at 9:11 am

Anthony, someone who eggs on someone else’s kid to the point of injury has a much more serious problem with his neighbors than who pays the bill.

The only case where Parent B should pay the fine is if her kid had taken off the seatbelt in the middle of the ride without Parent A’s knowledge. If Parent A is driving, her responsibility to ensure that everyone is buckled. If Child B won’t cooperate, she should refuse to take him.

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5 Savvy April 9, 2010 at 9:32 am

I agree that Parent A is responsible and should pay the fine. Even if Parent A had done absolutely nothing illegal and was pulled over by the police for no reason at all (perfectly legal and common here in NZ), Parent A is still responsible. The driver should always be responsible for ensuring all children in the car have seatbelts on.

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6 Brandi April 9, 2010 at 9:32 am

Dude, how does anyone get to adulthood without that whole “It’s not my fault it’s HER/HIS fault being beaten out of their system?

I mean really. How many times has that woman probably told her own kids to not play the blame game? We’ve all heard it. We’ve all done it at some point. You know it’s not right. Take responsibility.

When I get a speeding ticket (yes…it does happen…) I don’t blame the cop for being on that street at the exact right time. Or even on him having a bad day or a corn cob up his ass etc etc etc. I was the one breaking the law and unfortunately I have to deal with that.

It would be nice if they just abolished speed zones anyway…but that is a whole other issue.

Take responsibility, own up to what you did, and REMEMBER….you are not only responsible for your self, you are responsible for the lives of all your passengers. ESPECIALLY if they are children. Sheesh.

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7 philip April 9, 2010 at 9:37 am

(Disclaimer: I have no kids either)

You are a little unclear if the ticket is for her making an illegal u-turn or for the kid being unbuckled. However, either way I still feel it is entirely the responsiblity of the driver for the full amount of the ticket. I know that I would act different if I were around an aunt or uncle versus doing something I would never get away with at home. The kid probably does always buckle up with their parents and just know they get away with it with this other adult.

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8 Sarah Fowler April 9, 2010 at 9:40 am

I have several takes on this. Overall, no Neighbor A should not ask Neighbor B to pay for it; and if I were Neighbor A I don’t think that would even occur to me.

If I were Neighbor B I’d have a serious talking-to with my kid, and pay Neighbor A to keep the friendship but probably look for another arrangement to get my kid to school.

Depending on the age of the kid, I’d probably also institute a fine system (with chores or money) where, ticket or no ticket, if he didn’t put in his seatbelt he’d owe me something.

Tell you what my parents would have done, though: they’d have made ME pay the $200, whether in money or in chores for the neighbor.

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9 Amanda April 9, 2010 at 10:01 am

There is no way I would ask Neighbor B to split the cost of the ticket. The kid is a kid and when in your care, you are responsible for making sure a child has his/her seat belt on.

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10 Kyle C. April 9, 2010 at 10:01 am

Seems pretty clear cut to me. It is the sole responsibility of the drive of the vehicle to ensure all children are properly buckled in. Neighbor B wasn’t in the car, Neighbor A should have known better than to ASSume that a group of kids did what he/she asked them to do. Neighbor A should pay and quit griping about being an idiot.

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11 RedSkins Suck April 9, 2010 at 10:11 am

Redskins Suck! They always have and always will with Snyder running the (sinking) ship

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12 Janet April 9, 2010 at 10:30 am

The sting of a ticket can be pretty strong since I’m sure most of us don’t budget for things like this (at least I don’t!). So we need to do everything possible to avoid these unnecessary expenses. Unfortunately it appears the driver is trying to avoid this expense by pawning it off on someone else instead of being accountable for her actions and acting like a grown up.

Not knowing how many kids were in the car and where this kid was sitting, if you’re stuck in the middle of a crowded back seat it’s sometimes hard to get to the seatbelt. As a responsible adult, the driver should have made sure everyone was buckled up before even moving the car, and if anyone needed assistance they should have helped out.

To avoid the unnecessary expenses we all need to have some sort of risk management and risk avoidance plan. Driver should not have made an illegal u-turn and should have made sure everyone was buckled up. Seems easy enough to me. The driver just needs to put her big girl panties on and get over it!

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13 Tay April 9, 2010 at 10:57 am

Honestly, if I was the driver, I would take full responsibility for the ticket. However, if I was the parent of the child who didn’t wear his/her seatbelt, I would insist that my child help cover the cost of the ticket from his/her own money (allowance) because my child should have known better than to be in a moving vehicle without a secured seatbelt. Just my opinion. :)

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14 jim April 9, 2010 at 11:19 am

I don’t have kids but I think the driver’s responsible. They’re the adult and as the driver they should make sure each of the kids has their seat belt on. If they had gotten into an accident and the child wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, who is responsible? The driver. The adult.

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15 Kams April 9, 2010 at 12:07 pm

I would never ask a neighbour topay; however, if I found out that my kids deliberately disboeyed, not only the adult driving them, but also the law, I would make them pay the neighbour – the full amount if they were old enough, or a smaller amount based on their allowance if they were younger. You have to learn that stupidity costs you money sometime..

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16 Tea April 9, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Like others, I agree the responsibility for the minor children being buckled is the responsibility of the driver. However, if it were my child who did not buckle his seat belt, I would require him to go to her an offer to do chores to work off the fine. I would also look for a safer driver to transport my child in the future.

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17 lenciB April 9, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Well I’m an obsessed Steelers fans…and I love the Ravens too, don’t ask! Back to the issue at hand, I’m agreeing with you. Person A did the illegal act that drew attention to the child unbuckled. And another point, we’re talking about a child. Buckle their seatbelt for them. Don’t move the car until the seatbelt is buckled. They should have made sure everyone was safe before they start driving anyway. Totally their fault anyway that you slice it. Driver responsibility!

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18 Tiffany April 9, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Totally driver A’s fault for two reasons:

1) they made the illegal u-turn that caused the police to pull them over

2) they are the ADULT in the situation, and it is their responsability to check that ALL of the KIDS are buckled up!

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19 Tiffany April 9, 2010 at 1:09 pm

As a matter of fact…when I have my little brothers in the car, the car “magically” stops working if a seatbelt comes off. Even if it means pulling over to the side of the road. I have no control…it’s the magic car that does it.

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20 Carol April 9, 2010 at 2:10 pm

The driver is responsible for making sure that all riders are properly buckled in. The rule in my car is “the car doesn’t move until everyone has their seat belt on!”

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21 Miss New Money April 9, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I understand where you’re coming from, but as Neighbor B, I would split the cost with her or may 25%. True she did do something illegal and was thus pulled over for it. But if I am not upset at her for a) not checking my child was wearing a seat belt before she pulled off, b) for being a “careless” driver with my kid in the care, c) wanted to keep the peace between my neighbor and I – heck I might need something later and d) if I wanted her to continue relieving me of my responsibility to shuttle the kid around, I’d pay. If, for Neighbor B, none of those were concerns, then I’d cut my losses, tell Neighbor A to kick rocks and find someone else to take my kid to school!

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22 Shelley April 9, 2010 at 2:48 pm

I am a dutiful Judge Judy watcher:

Neighbor A has to pay it all because Neighbor B was not present at the time to “control” their kid. Neighbor A had the responsibility to ensure all kids were safe and buckled up before driving. Neighbor B should then remove her kid from the car pool since Neighbor A is a reckless driver. =o)

Now, that being said, IF neighbor did ensure that all kids were buckled in and Neighbor B’s knucklehead kid undid their seat belt, I am coming to Neighbor B for some money because their child clearly did the opposite of what was asked. They should then shout at each other because Neighbor A was reckless when driving and Neighbor B’s kid is an idjut. That ends the car pool and everyone drives for themselves.

The End.

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23 J. Money April 9, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Yeah, I wish I had more of the details here but this is pretty much what we got on the radio :) A lot of the callers were mentioning some of the same things -

1) Did the child have it on originally, and then take it off later?
2) Did the driver check 100% before they left the driveway?
3) What if someone died/got insured? Does it change then?

All pretty interesting variables…And love some of the ideas you all are dropping! Esp having your kid “pay it off” by doing chores and what not – creative.

Some responses:

@Philip – Oh sorry, the $200 ticket was because the neighbor’s kid wasn’t wearing a seat belt – not because of the u-turn or whatever it was that signaled the cops.
@RedSkins Suck – Haha…well, I definitely won’t debate you on the Snyder comment – he blows man.
@Janet – For sure, not many people at all set aside some “stupid money” for stuff like this. We should though!
@lenciB – Well, you can’t have McNabb. Sorry ;) I’ll gladly give you Campbell though?
@Tiffany – Haha…that magic is some powerful stuff.

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24 Kevin April 9, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Neighbor A shouldn’t have started to drive without making sure the kids were buckled up. But if I was that kids father I would offer to cover half because he should know better than to not put his seatbelt on and I’d probably have some sort of punishment for him.. As long as there wasn’t traffic during the illegal U-turn then I wouldn’t be upset with neighbor A because its not really an uncommon thing.

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25 Stella April 9, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Totally agree with you. In addition to being responsible for making the lame illegal U-turn, the driver is also responsible for making sure passengers are safely buckled in. Sheesh!

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26 Lazo April 9, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I agree with the posts stating that it was the driver’s responsibility to make sure the children were buckled in before driving. If this step were completed, the illegal U-turn would have only resulted in a citation for that action.

If the driver did verify everyone was buckled in (which was not stated — it was only stated the they were *told* to buckle up) and the child unbuckled his/her seatbelt while in transit, only then would I change my opinion. It would have been 2 separate actions (the U-turn + the child’s act of defiance) that would have resulted in the fine — the other parent would be notified of what the child did AND of the $200 fine as a result of that child’s actions.

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27 eemusings April 9, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Hmm. Everyone is responsible for buckling themselves in – except when it’s a child, then it’s over to the adult. And they weren’t pulled over for that, but for something else the adult did.

What DOES get my goat up is that here, problems with the car (ie road charges not up to date, broken headlight) are slapped on the driver, not the owner. Has happened to BF far too many times and why I totally forbid him to drive others cars!

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28 mcl April 10, 2010 at 12:44 am

I think Neighbor B should definitely pay for her kid’s fault–and not just split the ticket, but pay the full $200 instead of the driver (Neighbor A), and in fact should be thankful that Neighbor A doesn’t sue her, and so also maybe bring some baked cookies over or such to smooth things out?

If there are no baked cookies (or something like that), Neighbor B should definitely take Neighbor A and her child to court, and try to sue the whole Family A, not only to recoup B’s losses, but to teach Family A a lesson.

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29 Simple in France April 10, 2010 at 1:23 am

Seriously? If you are the adult in charge of a kid you should be aware that kids to kid-like things (not buckling up, not always listening to directions, occasionally being spacey). Maybe the driver should have CHECKED that the minors in her care were all buckled in. Totally her fault.

If I were the parent of the child in question, not only would I not fork over the cash, but I wouldn’t leave me kid in her guard ever again because of her poor driving and her inability to really be responsible for kids in her care.

Full disclosure: I have no kids but I was a teacher–so I see that adults are responsible for kids even if they are occasionally a bit squirrely–they’re kids, for god’s sake!

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30 mbhunter April 10, 2010 at 2:33 am

What does the law say? There’s your answer.

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31 Abigail April 10, 2010 at 12:53 pm

I’m basically with everyone else.

Neighbor A is responsible for the kid’s safety while he’s in her care. That means making sure the kid puts on (and keeps on) his seatbelt. Kids hate the things. I remember always trying to get away without one. And this was back when you didn’t use a carseat past a very young age. So I remember the top part of the seatbelt kind of hitting my throat in an uncomfortable way. So I’d try to slip it around back. And my mom would make me put it back.

Now, it’s harder because kids are in the backseat, where it’s not as visible. But still… Your car, your responsibility. You could mention to the neighbor that the kid didn’t put on/keep on his seatbelt as a precautionary “Keep an eye out for this” thing. And if the neighbor offers some money, it’s up to you. But in the end, fork over the dough, Neighbor A and stop blaming everyone else!

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32 J. Money April 10, 2010 at 8:39 pm

@mbhunter – I bet the law says the driver of the car is always responsible. But knowing that would spoil all the fun here ;)

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33 Renee April 10, 2010 at 9:14 pm

I have 3 lovely children and no matter how well I have taught them or asked, looked, or checked there have been a few incidents that they have gotten away with being unbuckeled (yes I know…the horror). Anyway, they have been taught better than this and they know better than this, but stuff happens sometimes (that’s life- as we all know). Anyhow, I would want my son/daughter to take on some of the responsibility from the ticket because the fact of the matter is they did something wrong. Yes, I know the driver also did something wrong to draw attention to themselves, but honestly I could probably be pulled over on a daily basis for some minor infraction and given a ticket. I’m sure we all could–pulling up too far past a solid white line, etc. I think that parents cripple their children when they constantly bail them out and blame others instead of hold them accountable for thier own behaviors.

That being said I also would hold myself responsible if I was the driver and not ASK the neighbor to pay. I would let them offer to let the child work off a nominal amount in labor or something like that. Lesson learned for all involved.

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34 jake April 10, 2010 at 9:28 pm

JMoney is responsible. By stirring up so much rancor, I think that he should pay. You know what they say, “whoever smelt it dealt it!”

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35 J. Money April 10, 2010 at 9:46 pm

We finally have a winner ladies & gentlemen!

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36 Kim April 10, 2010 at 10:58 pm

The rule at my house is that the car does not move without everyone being seatbelted. Totally the driver’s responsibility!

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37 MyFinancialObjectives April 11, 2010 at 8:17 pm

OH SHELL NO! Sorry, but the driver of the vehicle without a doubt should pay. I remember as a kid my friends parents would not drive until they saw all of the passengers (my fellow loud and annoying friends) buckled. Like you said, the choice is CA-LEAR!

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38 Manny April 12, 2010 at 5:33 am

I don’t think there should be much of a debate here. The child’s safety became the responsibility of the driver the moment the child was inside the car. It is her responsibility to check if her passengers are all buckled up for safety.

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39 Sen April 12, 2010 at 7:36 am

If it were my kid who caused the driver to get the ticket, i’d offer to pay for the ticket and make that rugrat work it off in chores! My kid would also be in BIG trouble–I’m a firm believer in seatbelts. And doing what you’re told–it was how I was raised, a good, polite Southern girl.

But if I had gotten the ticket, NO WAY would I ask for half from my neighbor. I would probably stop driving that kid to school, though. Little troublemaker…

I guess I blame the kid for not following directions, plain and simple. :) Can you tell I don’t want any (for the moment)?

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40 JL April 12, 2010 at 1:34 pm

I think the driver should take full responsibility here. The driver broke the law that made them get pulled over in the first place. It’s a kid. They forget things and often don’t listen. If I were the driver I would suck it up, pay the ticket and trust that next time my kid did something stupid my neighbor would do the same.

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41 JS April 13, 2010 at 1:28 am

If I were Neighbor A, I would:
-Tell Neighbor B what happened, but pay the ticket and not ask for money.
-Tell Neighbor B (and the other parents) that if this happens again, their kid won’t be allowed in the car
-Periodically check the kids’ seat belts from now on

If I were Neighbor B, I would:
-Make my kid pay for the ticket, either with money or with chores
-Periodically check seat belts when it’s my turn to drive

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42 Dr. T April 16, 2010 at 5:59 pm

The driver is responsible for the safety of her passengers. I don’t put my car in gear until I know that everyone is buckled up, including adult passengers who say they never use seat belts.

Neighbor A (the driver) should have checked to see that all the kids were properly buckled in. That was her legal and moral responsibility. If I were Neighbor B, I’d be upset that Neighbor A allowed my kid to ride while unbuckled. I certainly wouldn’t agree to pay any or all of the fine, and I would not let my kid ride with Neighbor A for quite a while.

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43 purplecarpool January 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm

I think it may depend on the age of the kids too – I drive carpool and i am constantly telling the girls to buckle up – they are all around 15yrs old so I’ve also warned them that if we ever get stopped and they aren’t wearing their seatbelts they are paying the bill – as I would expect to my daughter to pay if she was the one not wearing her seatbelt in someone elses car – by that age they should be taking responsibility since they will be driving soon themselves

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