A Charlotte, North Carolina car accident claimed the life of an innocent pedestrian Sunday morning, and a second pedestrian is clinging to life at Carolinas Medical Center. The Charlotte Observer reports that 21 year old Leah Anne Watson was driving down Craig Avenue when she turned her attention from the road in order to reach for a cigarette. In doing so, she crossed the center double yellow line and crossed two lanes of oncoming traffic before jumping the curb, striking two pedestrians. Watson, who had previously been arrested but not convicted of compumption of alcohol under the age of 19, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless driving, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, no liability insurance, and driving with a revoked registration.
The University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC) estimates that as many as 30% of all reported car accidents are due to driver distraction. A study conducted by HSRC found one third of subjects used a cellphone while driving, and 40% engaged in reading or writing. The severity of distracted driving in this country has lead the US Department of Transportation to hold a Distracted Driving Summit and launch a government website, www.distraction.gov, in order to bring awareness to this growing problem. The second national Distracted Driving Summit is scheduled for September 21, 2010.