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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Teens and Distracted Driving: The Dangers Don’t Stop Them; Will This?

2 comments

Massachusetts banned texting while driving in September 2010. The state law prohibits the “use of a mobile telephone, or any handheld device capable of accessing the Internet, to manually compose, send or read an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle.” Anyone texting while driving negligently and causing injury will face criminal charges.

Less than two-years after the law went into affect, a jury has convicted the first person of motor vehicle homicide and negligent operation while texting. He was sentenced to two-and-a half-years in jail with a year to serve, 40 hours of community service, and his license has been revoked for 15 years. Who is he? At the time of the accident, he was a 17-year-old high school student.

The day of the fatal auto accident, the teen had sent 193 text messages, at least two moments before he crossed the center line and slammed into a Toyota Corolla head-on. The driver of the Corolla died from serious injuries 18 days later; passenger suffered severe head trauma and was on life support. After the accident, the teen told police that he swerved to avoid another vehicle who suddenly hit the breaks. He admitted to sending and receiving nearly 200 texts that day, but said he was not texting at the time of the accident. The accident occurred at 2:34 p.m. The teen said his last message was at 2:33 pm. and he didn’t receive another text until 3:10 p.m., but phone records indicate that two text messages were deleted from the teen’s phone.

Distracted driving is an epidemic on our roadways, especially among teens and young adults. Although many distractions – cell phones, eating, drinking, applying make-up, changing the radio, using a GPS – can be distracting and dangerous, the U.S. Department of Transportation says texting is the most dangerous because it involves all three main types of driver distractions:

  • Visual: Distraction that takes the driver's eyes off of the road
  • Manual: Distraction that takes the driver's hands off of the wheel
  • Cognitive: Distraction that takes the driver's mind off of driving

Distractions combined with inexperienced drivers make for a very dangerous mix. These kids need to understand that they are not invincible and that they too, can be seriously injured or even killed in a distracted driving accident. Some states have enacted laws against texting and driving or using a cell phone while driving, but it is simply not enough to stop this negligent behavior and prevent accidents. If teens know the dangers and the consequences and still partake in driving distractions, how can we help them be safe behind the wheel?

Parents, help put the brakes on this distracted driving epidemic. Set an example by not talking or using your cell phone while driving, set and enforce rules, and most importantly, talk to your kids about the dangers of texting and driving.

We all need to support anti-cell phone laws and keep pushing for increased legislation and education. Lawsuit Financial hopes this case sends a message. If we haven’t been able to stop you from texting and driving because of the dangers to others on the roadways; if we haven’t been able to stop you from texting and driving because of the dangers to your own safety and life; perhaps we can get you to stop texting and driving because your freedom is at stake. You can go to jail for negligent homicide in addition to having a loss of life on your conscious. What more can we do to convince you that it's not OK to text and drive?

Mark Bello has thirty-five years experience as a trial lawyer and thirteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice and Public Citizen, Business Associate of the Florida, Mississippi, Connecticut, Texas, and Tennessee Associations for Justice, and Consumers Attorneys of California, member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

2 Comments

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  1. Scott K says:
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    Put railways in.

    The real question is, why is it that the only mode of transportation for so many people is for them to be in control of a 2,500+ lb. machine? These days a lot of people don’t WANT to drive and would prefer not to do it – why don’t we instead of making these laws make it easy for those kids to get around WITHOUT driving?

    This problem is like drinking and driving. Everyone knows it’s dangerous and bad, and can have serious repercussions. But some overestimate their own abilities, and they do it anyways. Which is why cab drivers post their phone number in the bathroom at the pub – people are reminded that hey, you really shouldn’t take a chance and if you didn’t plan ahead, here’s an option that’s safer than driving home.

    Back in the day, a car was the mark of freedom. Nowadays, the phone is the mark of freedom – if you don’t have a car you can always call/text your friend who does, and you can call/text your friends whenever you want. Kids don’t care about the cars so much – so, let’s offer them the option of NOT driving.

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    Mark, great post. Sad case for all involved. Teenager obviously showed no remorse which is even more frightening. We just don’t seem to care as much about people today as we did a generation ago.
    Drive Safe – XTHATXT