Cell phones are causing otherwise prudent drivers to become distracted while they are driving. One particular concern among Americans has been texting while driving.
This seems to fall right into line with a new law that has been put to the test in England recently.
The New York Times reports that Philippa Curtis was given jail time for causing a fatal car crash that killed Victoria McBryde because she was texting while driving.
It was a disturbing case because the victim, who had pulled her car to the side of the road for a flat tire had sent a text message minutes before she pulled over to the side of the road: "Indeed, the victim herself had sent a text message and talked on her cellphone (using the speaker function) while driving before her car broke down, according to the testimony of a friend with whom she had the 20-minute phone conversation."
This tragic story and others serve to prove the point that texting while driving should be banned.
In fact, the sentencing in Britain is on the heels of a graphic public service announcement had recently been released. Here is a CNN clip of the announcement. *Warning: this clip contains graphic material that may not be suitable for children*:
Stateside, Utah passed a law after a car crash killed two scientists. If someone kills or injures someone while texting behind the wheel in Utah, they can face up to 15 years in prison.
According to the New York Times, "[t]he new law, which took effect in May, penalizes a texting driver who causes a fatality as harshly as a drunken driver who kills someone. In effect, a crash caused by such a multitasking motorist is no longer considered an 'accident' like one caused by a driver who, say, runs into another car because he nodded off at the wheel. Instead, such a crash would now be considered inherently reckless."
In spite of these risks, we still see many people who are guilty of texting while driving.
"I think Phillipa's sentence was long enough, as she seemed like such a normal girl," said Gemma Pancoust, the victim's cousin and close friend, "Until Tory's death I texted while driving, as have most people. I don't think she realized the danger she was causing."
It is a hot topic for all. Even the federal government has gotten involved. It kicked off a Summit to Tackle Dangers of Distracted Driving at the end of September.
The two-day Summit brought together safety experts, researchers, industry representatives, elected officials and members of the public to share their expertise, experiences and ideas for reducing distracted driving behavior and addressing the safety risk posed by the growing problem across all modes of transportation.
In the meantime, if you are tempted to text while you drive just don't do it! Sending that text message is just not worth the consequences. It could mean be a matter of life and death.
Stay tuned for more developments on Texting While Driving.
- Driving While Texting: Apps to Block It and Toughening Laws (Findlaw's Common Law Blog)
- Distracted Driving Summit (U.S. Dept. of Transportation)
- Clear Message: Texting While Driving is Dangerous (Findlaw)
- Traffic Violations FAQs (provided by Law Office of Christopher A. Connelly)
- Auto Accident Injury Compensation (provided by Knapp & Roberts)