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.
Texting is one of the worst distractions possible. It takes the drivers eyes, hands and mind off of driving - what one official called a "perfect storm" of distraction. 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.