New studies have shown that texting while driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. In Massachusetts, a law made texting while driving a criminal offense as of September 30, 2010, if it results in an injury.
According to news sources, a Haverhill teenager may be the first person to be convicted of a fatal car accident as a result of texting while driving. His trial began this week.
The accident, in which the teenager was involved, occurred on Feb. 20, 2011. According to court testimony, the teenager crossed over the center line and hit another car in a head-on collision. The occupants of that car were both severely injured.
The 55-year-old driver, a man from New Hampshire, died of his injuries nearly three weeks later. His passenger and girlfriend suffered collapsed lungs, fractured pelvis and leg and all of her ribs were broken. She was able to testify at the teenager’s trial.
One of the pieces of evidence that was submitted during the trial was a phone record showing that the teenager sent and received four text messages that day between the hours of 2:33 p.m. and 2:35 p.m. The accident occurred between the hours of 2:35 p.m. and 2:36 p.m. on River Street in Haverhill.
As anyone who uses text messaging is aware, a message can be received but does not have to be viewed until a later time. Whether the messages sent to the teenager were actually read, and replied to, was not made clear from the news report.
The Haverhill teenager has been charged with negligent motor vehicle homicide, apparently for crossing the center line. The prosecution is also seeking a criminal conviction for texting while driving which resulted in an injury.
In this case, whether or not the teenager is convicted of criminal charges, he could certainly also be sued in civil court for negligence that contributed to the wrongful death of the 55-year-old driver, He could also be held liable for the personal injury to the woman who was 55-year-old’s girlfriend.
Source: Boston Globe, “Haverhill teen on trial for causing fatal crash allegedly sent and received four texts in minutes before crash,” Brian R. Ballou and John R. Ellement, May 29, 2012