A recent criminal case may be a first for our State. According to prosecutors, it may be “the first time Alabama’s texting and driving statute has been applied in a manslaughter case.” We previously discussed a commercial truck case in Georgia on this blog where both a driver and his trucking company were criminally indicted.
At the Blackwell Law Firm, we frequently help individuals injured by a distracted driver. While we don’t handle criminal cases, we do work hard to hold negligent and reckless drivers accountable for the personal injury damages they cause. We work hard to get compensation for our injured clients. Texting. Checking emails. Using social media. Looking for objects in the car. These are all normal activities but NOT when driving. They are all forms of distracted driving that have injured our clients in recent years.
It’s rare for a car crash to result in a criminal charge. But, sometimes the conduct is so extreme it is warranted. What happened in this case to warrant a criminal charge of manslaughter? It was an April morning. A young girl was struck head-on and killed. The driver who caused the wreck told police he looked down “momentarily” and when he looked up it was too late to stop for the car in front of him. So, he swerved into oncoming traffic and struck the young girl head-on. That was the driver’s story at the scene. If true, he was certainly negligent in his driving. Yet, the truth was much worse.
The local prosecutor used a FBI expert to download and analyze the data on the driver’s phone. What the expert discovered was very disturbing. The driver who caused the fatal wreck had been on the road that morning for about 75 minutes prior to the crash. According to the prosecutor, he used his cellphone during every single one of the 75 minutes. That’s right, he used his cell phone practically the entire time he was on the road. While driving, he was actually using social media, including dating apps. He was sending messages. He was looking at women on dating apps. This was no momentary lapse in judgment. This was a driver who carelessly put everyone on the road at risk that morning. The result of that complete carelessness — a life tragically lost.
This criminal case is an egregious example of distracted driving. But, every day we see people whose lives have been changed in an instant because another driver chose to not pay attention. Distracted driving risks lives. Our firm supports efforts to help young drivers develop good safety habits now. We also closely follow research into technology that may reduce the rate of distracted drivers on our highways. Finally, we work hard for our clients to hold distracted drivers accountable for the injuries they cause.