In what may be the first court case involving North Carolina’s two-year texting ban, Andrew James Watkins, age 25, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor death by vehicle this past week.
The accident, which took place in Asheville, N.C., in August of 2010, took the life of Joel Severson, 39. Watkins, while distracted by texting, veered out of his lane and hit Severson’s motorcycle.
Watkins was given a 60-day suspended sentence, 200 hours of community service and fined $1,000. He also was required not to use or possess a cell phone while driving.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2009 5,474 people were killed on U.S. roadways and an estimated 448,000 were injured in crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving.
Using a cell phone while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.
However, texting is even worse. A study on texting by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to crash or be involved in a near-crash.
“As dangerous as talking on the phone appears to be, texting is one of the most dangerous things a person can do behind the wheel,” said Arthur Goodwin, a researcher at the Highway Safety Research Center in Chapel Hill. “It takes your hands, your eyes, and your brains — the perfect storm, from a highway safety point of view.”
Drivers should also remember that these criteria apply to GPS devices as well. It’s all too tempting to program your destination while driving down the highway. And all too dangerous.
North Carolina’s ban on texting while driving was passed in 2009. Thirty-three other states have enacted bans on texting while driving. The other 16 should get on board.
Has your life been disrupted by an accident causing serious injury or death? Do you or someone you know need a lawyer’s counsel? You can get help at the Egerton Law website. The Egerton Law firm and its personal injury attorneys want to help you. Call us at 336-273-0508 or 800-800-4LAW. E-mail us at [email protected]
Facts about the Egerton Law firm:
- We have built a tradition of helping injured people and their families since the firm was established in 1956.
- We have handled cases in North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, New York, the District of Columbia, the North Carolina Supreme Court, and U.S. District Court. We have fought cases all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
- Firm founder Lawrence Egerton has a personal understanding of the challenges someone faces after being hurt in a wreck, having suffered a serious injury in a rear-end collision in 1996.
- Our website offers resources on legal issues, informational videos, and a free download of Lawrence’s book “Don’t Follow Too Close.”
Have you had a wreck and the insurance company is:
- Pressuring you to give a statement? (Don’t give a statement without consulting us.)
- Refusing to get you a rental car?
- Making it hard for you to get medical payments?
- Generally giving you a hard time?
Take action and help us to help you. Call or email: 336-273-0508, 800-800-4LAW, [email protected]. We can advise you on whether you have a case, how to get a wrecked vehicle paid for and how to get medical care. You will always speak to an attorney on your first call.