Texting While Driving – Teen in Prison Following Fatal CrashJune 11, 2012
As I was driving home last Thursday (with hands at 10 and 2, eyes fixed squarely on the road ahead), NPR reported that a Massachusetts judge had sentenced a teen to prison for texting while driving.
I later learned from the Washington Post that he was the first to be convicted of vehicular homicide under a new Massachusetts state law, which makes injuring someone while texting and driving a criminal offense.
In this case, he severely injured one and killed another.
His combined 4-1/2 years of prison time was reduced to one year in jail, three years probation, a fine and the loss of his driver’s license for the next 15 years.
Unfortunately, this accident—and the many just like it—shouldn’t come to us as a surprise. As Xata VP of Regulatory Compliance, Tom Cuthbertson notes, drivers are 23 times more likely to cause an accident while texting behind the wheel.
As awareness of this dangerous driving behavior grows, so do the laws meant to discourage unsafe practices. Massachusetts is not the only state that allows prosecutors to pursue felony convictions for death or bodily injury resulting from distracted driving. And today, 39 states have some form of texting while driving law on the books.
Should more states push felony cases as Massachusetts did to send a message? Is this what’s needed to finally get through to drivers who seem to think they can multitask behind the wheel?