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UPDATE: Fatal Mother’s Day Collision Caused by Cell Phone Usage?

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I recently posted a blog about two multi-car collisions that both occurred on the same stretch of Interstate 40 in Greensboro, North Carolina on Mother’s Day, May 9, 2010. The first wreck occurred around 6:00 p.m. and resulted in the immediate death of a 15-year-old boy from Winston Salem; the second took place around 10:00 p.m. and killed a 26-year-old woman.

On Tuesday, May 11, 2010 another young person who was a victim in the first accident died at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro. He was a well-liked, 11-year-old middle school student and the brother of the 15-year-old who died at the scene of the collision. The Piedmont Triad community continues to mourn the tragic deaths of these two young brothers.

Sadly, the fatal wreck might have been avoided if the driver of the tractor-trailer that rear-ended the brothers’ vehicle had not been using her cell phone while driving. Jayne Perkins, 39, of Oxford, Arkansas admitted to talking on her cell phone as she approached traffic on the highway that was stopped due to road construction.

Ms. Perkins has been charged with two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. As digtriad.com reports, “talking and driving is not a crime,” so police said the cause of the crash was Perkins’ failure to reduce speed.

Since the lamentable incident, the community has been engaged in a conversation regarding whether or not motorists operating massive vehicles should be legally permitted to use cell phones while driving. “In January, the US Department of Transportation announced a federal ban on texting for drivers of commercial vehicles,” according to another digtriad.com article.

But perhaps the prohibition of texting while driving—while obviously important and vital—stops short of the measures that should be taken to protect motorists on our nation’s public highways.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute claims that “someone dialing a cell phone while driving a heavy vehicle/truck is 5.9 times more likely to crash or nearly crash compared to a non-distracted driver.”

It might be true that texting while driving—which forces motorists’ eyes and attention from the road—is more dangerous than talking while driving, but this accident shows that any distractions from driving have the potential to contribute to tragedy.