Last week, the trial began for Aaron Deveau, a Massachusetts’ teen accused of texting while driving, an act that allegedly led to a crash that killed a 55-year-old man. Among other charges, Deveau is facing motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation. While cell phone use (or “distracted driving”) has led to an increasing number of crashes nationwide, this case has the potential to lay the precedent for future cases, particularly because the crash involved the death of another person. Read more about this case here.
While the details of this case are still being debated (namely, whether he was actually texting at the time of the accident), this case once again sheds light on the dangers of distracted driving.
North Carolina is one of 39 states that currently have a ban on texting while driving. Specifically, drivers in NC are not only prohibited from texting but also from taking pictures, checking email, surfing the internet, and accessing other digital media. School bus drivers and drivers under 18 are prohibited in engaging in ANY cell phone use while driving, even just talking.
Of the 39 states with bans, only 35 states (NC included) have made texting while driving a primary offense, meaning that an individual can be pulled over for this offense without any other violation. As reported in a previous blog post, the National Transportation Safety Board has determined cell phone use to be so dangerous to drivers that it has recommended that all states impose a total ban on cell phone use while driving, including hands-free devices.
It’s important to educate yourself and your children on the laws and dangers involving distracted driving. Here are some tips for managing distractions, provided by theGovernors Highway Safety Association:
- Turn it off. Turn your phone off or switch to silent mode before you get in the car.
- Spread the word. Set up a special message to tell callers that you are driving and you’ll get back to them as soon as possible, or sign up for a service that offers this.
- Pull over. If you need to make a call, pull over to a safe area first.
- Use your passengers. Ask a passenger to make the call for you.
- X the Text. Don’t ever text and drive, surf the web or read your email while driving. It is dangerous and against the law in most states.
- Know the law. Familiarize yourself with state and local laws before you get in the car. Some states and localities prohibit the use of hand held cell phones. GHSA offers a handy chart of state laws on its website: www.ghsa.org/html/
- Prepare. Review maps and directions before you start to drive. If you need help when you are on the road, ask a passenger to help or pull over to a safe location to review the map/directions again.
- Secure your pets. Pets can be a big distraction in the car. Always secure your pets properly before you start to drive.
- Keep the kids safe. Pull over to a safe location to address situations with your children in the car.
- Focus on the task at hand. Refrain from smoking, eating, drinking, reading and any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident involving distracted driving or driver negligence, contact the Law Office of D. Hardison Wood today for a free initial consultation.