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Kansas City, Missouri

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Texting Teen Charged With Manslaughter In Fatal Crash

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Teen charged with manslaughter in texting-while-driving fatal accidentChances are you've done it. Or a friend driving you has done it. Or your parent or even a grandparent has done it. You've checked a text, email, or made a call while driving.

A Kansas City teenager has learned the tragic lesson that texting-while-driving accidents can happen to anyone. And prosecutors have charged the young girl with manslaughter for the distracted driving accident that killed a 72-year-old woman.

Though distracted driving crashes continue to grow, this is believed to be the first prosecution of its kind in the Kansas City area.

From the Kansas City Star:

Prosecutors used the texting allegation to add a much more serious charge — second-degree involuntary manslaughter — against [the teen], whom a judge certified this week to stand trial as an adult.

According to court records, [the teen] was texting, looking at her phone and listening to loud music when she lost control of her vehicle in September and slammed into a car driven by … a great-grandmother….

The manslaughter charge alleges that [the teen] demonstrated "criminal negligence" by losing control by texting while driving.

Texting and driving is dumb. You're taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds… 10 seconds… maybe even longer. At 60 miles per hour you cover 440 feet in 5 seconds — nearly a football field and a half. In 10 seconds, you've gone nearly 900 feet (three football fields).

Distracted driving accidents can happen to you or a loved one. CNN reported that in 2009, more than half-a-million people were involved in distracted driving crashes and nearly 5,500 people were killed.

In 2010, the Huffington Post compared the risks of distracted driving to risks of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and showed that distracted driving was much more dangerous than drinking and driving.

  • Drivers are twice as likely to cause a crash if texting than if drinking.
  • Texting drivers need 6 times as much distance to stop as a drunk driver.
  • Texting drivers gaze at their mobile device for an average of 5 seconds – more than 440 feet at highway speeds.

"We know from many different research studies that texting while driving is at least as dangerous as driving while drunk, and may be even more dangerous," [the prosecutor] said…. "For that reason, I believe it should be illegal for anyone to text while they are driving."

***

"This is a tragic case for all involved, including [the teen], who is a good kid, " said her attorney….

The Missouri legislature passed a law in 2009 outlawing texting by young drivers, but efforts to expand the law to include drivers of all ages have not been successful.

To combat the distracted driving problem a group of more than 750 trial attorneys from the country have volunteered to speak at schools in all 50 states to spread the word about distracted driving dangers to young drivers. The group has set a goal of speaking to more than 100,000 students in one week during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month (April 2012).

Please don't put yourself and others at risk.

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(c) Copyright 2012 Brett A. Emison

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