A driver who allegedly thought nothing of typing out text messages while simultaneously operating a 4,800-pound vehicle is the reported cause of a fatal crash that killed a 53-year-old mother and seriously injured her husband and 16-year-old daughter.
The accused texting driver, 42, was arrested after police say his GMC Envoy rear-ended the victims’ Pontiac van while traveling westbound on U.S. 64. He is charged with texting while driving and failure to wear a seat belt. Authorities say additional charges – potentially vehicular manslaughter – could follow.
“We know that this is against the law,” the woman’s husband told a local news station shortly after his release from the hospital. “Yet we still have people out there that do those same things every day.”
The North Carolina Highway Patrol reports the victims were returning from visiting family in Pennsylvania when they stopped on the right shoulder of the highway. They weren’t far from home at that point. Still, it was about 6 a.m. and the husband was tired from the long drive. He and his wife decided to change positions. She got into the driver’s seat. She then pulled back out onto the highway from the shoulder. The defendant, who was reportedly texting at the time, didn’t realize the van pulled back onto the highway.
The impact of the collision caused victim’s vehicle off the road and into a wooded area nearby, where it overturned. The driver/ wife was declared dead at the scene. Both the husband and teen daughter were transported to the hospital. While the husband has been released, the girl remains in the intensive care unit in fair condition. The girl had been asleep in the back seat at the time of the collision.
In North Carolina, there is no prohibition on talking on a cell phone while driving (except for school bus drivers). However, there is a ban on text messaging for all drivers. G.S. 20-137.4A makes it a primary offense to text and drive, meaning an officer who sees you in violation can pull you over solely for that offense and issue a citation.
A first-time offense is a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum $100 fine – which is pittance when you consider the devastation this action can cause to families and entire communities.
The National Safety Council (NSC) reports an estimated 1.6 million car accidents every year are attributable to cell phone use. That’s one out of every four traffic accidents.
Here are a few other troubling statistics on distracted driving, as reported by The Huffington Post:
- 9 – Number of Americans killed daily in motor vehicle crashes caused by distraction.
- 40- Percent of teens who say they have been a passenger in a car whose driver used a cell phone in a careless or reckless way that jeopardized their safety.
- 33 – Percent of drivers 18 to 64 who report reading or writing text messages while driving in the last month.
- 4 – Times the crash risk for drivers who use cell phones versus those who do not.
- 5 – Seconds on average texting drivers peel their eyes away from the road.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Driver charged with texting while driving after woman killed in accident on US-64 in Wake County, May 31, 2016, By Gloria Rodriguez, 11 ABC News
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