While awareness of the texting-while-driving epidemic is growing, the United Kingdom is one of the few countries that are aggressively prosecuting people whose texting causes tragic accidents on the roadway. The New York Times reports that Phillipa Curtis, 22, was sentenced to 21 months in a high-security prison for an act of carelessness that cost another young woman, 24 year old Victoria McBryde, her life.
Ms. McBryde’s car had broken down on the A40 motorway. She put her blinkers on, and her car was a neon yellow Fiat. The night was clear. Under normal circumstances, there was no way that Ms. Curtis could have missed her.
“The crash might once have been written off as a tragic accident. Ms. Curtis’s alcohol level was zero. But her phone, which had flown onto the road and was handed to the police by a witness, told a story that — under new British sentencing guidelines — would send its owner to jail.
In the hour before the crash, she had exchanged nearly two dozen messages with at least five friends, most concerning her encounter with a celebrity singer she had served at the restaurant where she worked.”
Prosecutors were able to prove that Ms. Curtis received a text just seconds before the tragic accident. The state is now appealing the verdict to give her an even harsher sentence.
It’s tragic that two young lives have to be ruined in such a way. Maybe American lawmakers will wake up and receive the message that texting while driving is every bit as dangerous and irresponsible as driving under the influence.
We’ve written before about the dangers of texting and driving, and the alarming results of a Car and Driver study that showed texting can impair someone’s reaction time even more than alcohol. Here’s the video of that test.