Texting while driving has become a hot button topic of discussion lately. “Smart” phones have quickly become the standard cell phone for individuals to carry. The ever-increasing capabilities of these smart phones has only led to people constantly checking their phones for emails, text messages, Facebook updates, or any number of other “Aps” that they may have downloaded. In today’s society, we want our information instantly. And the easiest way to get that information is through our phones. Unfortunately, when driving a car, getting that instant information can have deadly consequences.
Distracted driving is an ever growing epidemic in this country. Studies have shown that drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. Text messaging specifically creates a crash risk of 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. Sending or receiving a text, on average, will take the driver’s eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. This means that at 55 mph, the car has traveled the length of an entire football field without the driver looking at the road. Sadly, 3,092 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and an estimated 416,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. 40% of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger.
States and municipalities have quickly been reacting to these staggering statistics by enacting laws to counter the ever growing dangers of distracted driving. In Massachusetts, Aaron Deveau was recently convicted of vehicular manslaughter when phone records revealed he was texting moments before a collision that resulted in one fatality and serious injuries to another. Judge Stephen Abany sent a message to all drivers in the state of Massachusetts when he sentenced Mr. Deveau to two and a half years imprisonment on the vehicular manslaughter charge and an additional two years on a texting while driving charge. Deveau’s sentence was ultimately reduced to three years probation, loss of his driver’s license for 5 years, and a monetary fine. In Kansas City, Missouri, a 16 year old girl was charged with vehicular manslaughter when she killed a 72 year old because she was allegedly looking down at her phone which caused her to run off the road and then violently swerve into oncoming traffic. In California, a woman was sentenced to 120 days in jail for killing a 2 year old girl in a crosswalk. Cases like these have begun popping up throughout the country as prosecutors and state officials attempt to curtail the tragic events that can happen when people text while driving.
The swift justice displayed in Massachusetts is just another step in the public response to texting while driving. Distracted driving has not only led to criminal charges, it has led to countless lawsuits throughout the country. Juries have and will continue to view texting while driving as a dangerous activity that should be punished. We have handled multiple cases that involved distracted drivers. If you have been involved in a wreck that was caused by a distracted driver, please contact our firm to help.