In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Lord Polonius says the now famous line, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” As much as we tend to think about this phrase in relation to borrowing or lending money to friends and family, the same goes for tools and, yes, even our precious vehicles. In all these cases, it feels nice to help out those who matter most to us, but with our vehicles, it can be a point of pride, but at what cost?
Handing the keys to a friend can be a good thing; especially when we’re not in any condition to be driving (read: when we’ve been drinking, awake for too long, or otherwise impaired). But, as gearheads, we know how exciting it can be to lend our rides to friends. Many of our friends – the friends we’d let drive our cars without us around, anyway – are gearheads too. They appreciate the responsibility.
Banovsky tipped me to a story from 2007 which really struck a chord. Any gearhead who’s ever let someone borrow his car, has had the thought cross his mind about insurance, about liability. If I lend my car to Joe and Joe gets into an accident, will I be financially responsible for the damage Joe causes with my vehicle? It’s a good question, but have you ever thought about what might happen if Joe committed a crime while borrowing your ride? What if Joe killed someone?
Meet Ryan Holle.
In early 2003, Holle had spent an evening partying with friends. He’d been drinking, maybe indulging in “herbal remedies,” and ended up lending his Chevy Metro to friends. His friends would end up breaking into the home of a nearby drug dealer to steal a safe with a pound of weed and less than US$500 cash in it. During the robbery, one of the friends found a shotgun and beat a girl to death with it.
This guy’s choice in friends aside, he was tried and convicted of the murder. He’s been serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole since 2004. Reason being? The crime would not have happened, had he not lent the car to his friends.
Trust & Risk
We like to think this sort of thing doesn’t happen very often. According to the Wikipedia entry and an more in-depth story on The New York Times, Holle’s friends had made comments about the robbery and possibly needing to knock someone out, so maybe he should have known better.
Even so, it goes to show – be extra careful who you let have your keys.
- Who do you trust to borrow your vehicles?
- How do you know you’re protected if someone does something stupid with your machine?