Since 2009, texting while driving has been illegal in North Carolina, but that did not stop one local woman. On February 8, a Belmont woman was charged with second-degree murder for the death of an elderly Belmont woman, and has been charged with texting while driving and driving while intoxicated, according to WCNC Charlotte. The driver was operating her 1999 GMC Jimmy SUV when she hit a 75 year-old pedestrian with. According to witnesses, the woman was dragged down the road by the truck until the vehicle finally came to a stop after hitting a row of trashcans. The elderly woman lay on the street and yelled for help. Her husband rushed to her side, but she later died at an area hospital.
The driver is also charged with reckless driving, driving while impaired, texting while driving, and driving without a valid license along with second-degree murder. Her license had been suspended for 12 months following a DWI conviction in October 2013. She was also charged in January 2011 for a Level 4 DWI. Her criminal record lists other previous drug and alcohol charges. She is being held in the Gaston County jail without bond.
Neighbors are angry, worried and upset. Not only was the driver intoxicated and texting while driving, she also admitted to consuming pain killers. Members of the community are concerned that our streets are becoming more dangerous because drivers are becoming more careless. Driving under the influence of marijuana or pain killers is just as serious as driving under the influence of alcohol. Texting while driving can be just as deadly. According to one statistic, at any given time during the day across the US, about 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other electronic devices while driving. This statistic has held steady since 2012 as consumers purchase more smart phones, iPads, iPods, and other devices.
Distracted driving falls into three different categories: manual (taking your hands of the wheel), visual (taking your eyes off the road), and cognitive (taking your mind off the road). Cell phone use involves all three categories, making it a more dangerous than eating while driving or talking to other passengers in the vehicle while driving. And what is even more disconcerting is that cell phone use was reported in 18 percent of distracted driving fatalities in America.
North Carolina bans all cell phone use, both handheld and hands-free, for drivers under the age o 18 and prohibits texting while driving for all North Carolina drivers. According to a study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, you are three times more likely to be involved in a crash when you engage in visual and manual tasks such as reaching for a cell phone, dialing or texting. At Auger & Auger, we urge you to take the science seriously. Young drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 are most susceptible to texting while driving and, subsequently, being involved in an accident due to texting while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 44% of respondents between the ages of 18-20 admit to continuously texting while driving, and 49% of young adults between the ages of 21-24 admit to sending text messages and emails while driving. The research also shows those teens with parents who text and drive are more likely to mimic their parents’ reckless behavior. Educate your teens about the dangers of texting and driving, and heed to the warnings yourself. If you were injured in a car accident because another driver was texting and driving, call the car accident attorneys at Auger & Auger to find out your rights and options under North Carolina law.