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Dr. Frank Ryan Texting Just Before Fatal Crash

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By Laura Strachan, Esq. on August 19, 2010 10:08 AM

Plastic surgeon to the stars, Frank Ryan was discovered to be text messaging just before his fatal car crash on Monday. Ryan died after he drove his Jeep Wrangler off Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California. The 50 year-old Ryan has performed plastic surgery on celebrities like Heidi Montag, Lisa Rinna, and Joan Rivers

According to People Magazine, Ryan was tweeting a message about his border collie, Jill moments before he crashed. Jill was in the car at the time of the crash and survived, but sustained injuries to her head, eyes, and paw. He had also tweeted a picture of his pooch earlier that day. Although officials have not released the cause of the accident yet, California Highway Patrol Officer Steven Reid said, "It is one of the elements we are investigating."

There are so many distractions inherent in driving that creating more unnecessary opportunities to look away from the road is illegal, and can have deadly consequences. The earlier sources of driving distractions (applying makeup, shaving, reading) have been replaced with high-tech toys, but the end result is always the same. Cell phones, once only capable of sending and receiving phone calls, now house endless applications in the form of Facebook, text messaging, Twitter, instant messenger, and emails. The bottom line is that even for the text-savvy, it is impossible to be a good driver and send or look at messages at the same time.

Many states have recognized the role technology has played in increasing accidents (some fatal) and put laws in place to help combat the problem. In California, where Frank Ryan's accident occurred, it is illegal to text or talk on the phone while driving. Offenders of the relatively recent laws usually receive a fine, but can also be punished with points on their driving records for repeat offenses. Additionally, a technological distraction determined to be the cause of an accident or injury can also serve as evidence of negligence or reckless driving. Therefore, even in those states that do not specifically ban cell phones while driving, there can still be significant legal consequences.

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