After the September fatal Metrolink
train crash in Los Angeles, California, which was clearly linked to text messaging by
the engineer, a new focus is being brought on the many distractions which are
causing increasing numbers of car and truck accidents.
Driver distractions have always
included adjustments to
the radio and temperature controls, other occupants in
the car or truck, eating, roadside distractions, and for some, putting on
make-up and reading the morning paper. The proliferation of new devices, such as
GPS units, DVD players, iPods, cell phones, mobile e-mail, and text messaging,
have only compounded the likelihood of an accident being caused by a
iPods mounted for the vehicle’s
sound system are very likely to distract a driver. Recent studies have shown
that almost every driver with an iPod took his or her eyes off the road for two
seconds or more. Two seconds is the “magic number” because the probability of an
accident goes up by factor of three after that time. (These tests were run on a
The results of the study were even
more dramatic for young drivers, ages 16-18, who were much more likely to keep
their eyes off the road for a distraction, such an iPod or changing a CD.
The Metrolink train crash, which
killed 25 people and injured 140 others, starkly illustrated the potential
dangers of text messaging. The engineer failed to stop at a red track signal,
and then struck a freight train head-on.
So far, Washington, Alaska, the
District of Columbia, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey and California have
banned text messaging while driving. Massachusetts is considering a similar ban,
but no action was taken in the 2008 legislative session. A similar bill is
expected to be brought to the legislature in 2008.
Investigation of driver
distraction is a standard part of the investigation of
car accident and truck
accident cases. Evidence of driver distraction, which can be from cell
phones, entertainment equipment, GPS units, or other distractions, is important
evidence in cases of
personal injuries or wrongful death.
At the personal injury law firm of
Breakstone, White & Gluck, P.C., we are aggressive in the investigation of
facts, such as driver distractions, which may have caused the accident. We have
experience retrieving relevant cell phone records and other accident data which
can help prove liability in our clients’ cases.
points to hazards of driver iPods,” Boston Globe.
team sorting out what happened in Metrolink crash,” Los Angeles Times.
Hasta La Vista To Texting While Driving,” Information Week.
leads ban on texting while driving,” Seattle Post Intelligencer