We all know that texting, talking and surfing the web are dangerous when done behind the wheel; but how often does that stop us from glancing at our phones at a red light? The truth is, distracted driving accounts for a significant percentage of injury accidents each year – and cell phones are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to inattentive driving.
Didn’t think that texting and driving could land you in jail? Think again. We bring you the top 10 worst cell phone accidents in history, many of which have landed the violators in none other than prison.
Stay safe and out of jail: don’t use your cell phone while driving.
10. Alleged texting causes death of 5 high school cheerleaders
In 2007, five high school cheerleaders from western New York were killed in a head-on collision with a tractor trailer. Moments before the fatal car accident, text messages were sent from and received by the teen driver’s cell phone. Investigators have no way of knowing whether or not Bailey Goodman, the young woman driving at the time of the crash, was in fact responsible for the messages sent from her phone. However, AAA spokesman Michael Pina told ABC News that texting while driving is one of the most dangerous distractions for any driver, regardless of age or driving experience.
9. Pregnant Florida woman killed by texting driver
Chelsea Murphy, a 19-year-old mother-to-be from Naples, Florida, was killed in a tragic car accident when she was hit by a driver using a cell phone to send text messages in March of 2010. Chelsea’s mother, Kris Murphy, is now campaigning to have schools speak to students about the severe dangers of texting and driving. The Naples News reported that Florida has yet to institute a ban on distracted driving hazards like texting, despite Murphy’s activism and that of other concerned citizens.
8. Metrolink engineer’s texting activity ends in deadly commuter crash
In September of 2008, a California Metrolink train carrying commuters through the San Fernando Valley collided with a freight train, killing 25 people and injuring an additional 135 passengers. The engineer responsible for directing the train was texting with a teenage train enthusiast mere seconds before the collision, an activity that is prohibited according to Metrolink operating rules. Reporters for Fox News described the accident as the worst of its kind in 15 years. Robert Sanchez, the engineer in question, was killed in the crash.
7. Facebook updates lead to fatal Chicago pedestrian accident
70-year-old Raymond Veloz stepped out of his car to inspect possible damage after a minor fender-bender, only to be hit and killed by a distracted driver who was logged into Facebook at the time of the accident. Details of the 2010 Chicago accident suggest that Araceli Beas was updating her Facebook page via mobile phone at the same time that Veloz placed a call for emergency roadside assistance. Veloz’s daughter, Regina Cabrales, argues that Beas was distracted by her use of a mobile device while driving – and illegal act in Illinois since 2009.
6. One month jail-time for texting on the job
Former San Antonio VIA Metropolitan Transit bus driver Adrian Perez was sentenced to 30 days in jail after evidence was found to confirm that he was using a cell phone to send text messages when he crashed into an SUV back in 2008. The accident injured the driver of the SUV, Betty Jo Hummel, and inspired Perez to speak out against texting and driving as a means of owning up to and repairing his mistakes.
5. Five months jail time for young texter
Brittnee Moore, a 20-year-old woman from Waynesburg, PA, was sentenced to jail time after an accident in which Moore’s cell phone use caused her to collide with another vehicle in the spring of 2007. The driver of the other vehicle, 16-year-old Hope Maley, was killed in the crash. Moore was found to have been speeding and reaching for her cell phone at the time of the accident. WTAE Pittsburgh reported that Moore would face no less than 5 months in the Greene County Jail for charges of homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment.
4. One year jail time for 20-year-old text & drive motorist
20-year-old Heather Marie Anderson was believed to have been using her cell phone to send text messages when she ran a red light and struck another vehicle, killing its driver and incurring a heavy jail sentence back in June of 2010. Anderson’s lawyer appealed the sentence, arguing that there was no evidence that his client was in fact texting at the moment of the accident itself. Fredericksburg news outlets reported that in December of 2010, a judge reduced the severity of Anderson’s sentence in light of cell phone records regarding her texting activity at the time of the crash. Anderson claims to have put her phone down before the fatal accident occurred, and explained the cause of the crash as “a moment of inattention.”
3. Six years of prison time for ‘paying-bills-while-driving’ motorist
California resident Deborah Matis-Engle was driving and paying bills via cell phone when she sped directly into a row of vehicles stopped at a construction site in April of 2007. Engle collided with the car in front of her, causing it to burst into flames and resulting in the death of passenger Petra Winn, 46. Business Fleet reported that the judge in the case, based in Redding, CA, sentenced Engle to six years in prison.
2. Seven years prison sentence for 22-year-old texting motorist
In 2004, 22-year-old driver Marcus Johnstone was deleting messages on his cell phone when he hit a power pole. The accident resulted in the death of two teenage girls, and Johnstone was sentenced to six years and nine months in jail as a result of the fatal accident. At the time of his 2006 sentence, Johnstone was the second person in Victoria, Australia to be charged with culpable and negligent driving as a result of cell phone distraction.
1. Ten years in prison for texting and driving homicide
18-year-old Minnesota resident Kayla Carry was charged with gross negligence and vehicular homicide after a series of 15 text messages sent and received while driving resulted in the wrongful death of 77-year-old Lucille Vogt. According to reports in the Fergus Falls Daily Journal, Carry hit Vogt’s vehicle in a head-on collision, sustaining serious injuries herself. She will serve up to ten years in prison as a result of the crash. Minnesota is one of the few states to enforce laws prohibiting the sending, receiving or reading of text messages while driving.