After Losing Left Legs, NJ Couple Urges Stronger Distracted Driving Laws

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Each lost a leg when their Harley was hit by a distracted driver. (Published Friday, Mar 26, 2010)

    Linda and Dave Kubert are life partners who share something in common that few other married couples can claim -- their left legs were amputated after an accident on their Harley Davidson motorcycle on September 21st of last year.

    "I looked down and I could see the bone sticking out of my jeans," said Linda Kubert, 57, of Dover Township, N.J.

    It was even worse for her husband. Dave Kubert, 56, was thrown to the other side of the Harley and said he tried to get over to his injured wife.

    He couldn't make it.

    "I noticed my left leg was hanging by a thread and blood was all over the place," he told NBC New York.

    Linda added, "He yelled his leg was off."

    Quick reacting EMTs and a helicopter medivac saved his life, and now the Kuberts are focusing much of their energy on toughening laws that deal with distracted driving.

    That's because the 18-year-old who hit their bike appeared to them to be focused on his phone, not his driving and so far, has been issued just three tickets for the accident.

    "His head was down ... I said (to Linda) 'We're gonna get hit,'" Dave recalled.

    And hit they were. Their bike flipped, their left legs were either ripped off or crushed, and now they undergo five days a week of intensive physical therapy at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in Chester.

    "They're amazing," said Dave of Kessler

    They're also helped by what Dave described as his understanding union local of the IBEW, and his employer,  Verizon -- all of which seem to help them focus on getting tougher laws to deal with distracted drivers.

    "Maybe people will think twice before picking up the cellphone if they know they could be fined, lose their license or go to jail," Dave said of one proposal that would equate a serious accident caused by a distracted driver with DUI.

    Assemblyman Alberto Coutinho(D-Essex) is sponsoring such a bill with the Kubert's name on it, along with another victim of a distracted driver.

    And fellow Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) is sponsoring a separate law the Kuberts like which would require all police accident reports to say if distracted driving was involved or not.

    Right now, there are few hard statistics on the problem.

    But Dr. Adam Shiroff, Associate Trauma Program Director with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, said "It's reaching an epidemic proportion."

    That is why UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has launched an outreach program on the issue.

    And it is why the Kuberts are willing to become poster children of sorts.

    "All it takes is a split second and you can basically ruin someone's life," said Dave Kubert.