Death by Texting

It’s bad enough when people drive and talk on the phone – they don’t have the use of their phone hand for maneuvering the car (and in many states, talking without a hands-free headset is illegal), and they are totally absorbed in a conversation, meaning they’re not looking alertly for pedestrians, bicyclists, a herd of buffalo or other cars.  What’s even more egregious is the texting craze which has the driver looking down and reading or dialing or writing and not even looking ahead at the road for several seconds, which could mark the difference between life and death.

For Victoria McBryde, 24, those few precious seconds meant her death.  22 year old Phillipa Curtis has been convicted of the death of Ms McBryde – caused by texting while driving.  The victim’s car had broken down and was by the side of the road with all its lights on and emergency lights blinking – a bit hard NOT to notice.  Nonetheless, she was killed instantly when her car was rear-ended by the texting Ms. Curtis, who will spend only two years in prison for this crime.

This all took place in Britain, which has added jail time to a conviction for killing by texting and driving.  Ms. Curtis’ phone records indicated that she had exchanged nearly two dozen messages with at least five friends, mostly concerning her encounter with a celebrity singer she had served at a restaurant where she worked.  That’s what was so important?  For that, someone had to die??  Death due to dangerous driving (e.g., texting) is on the level of drinking while driving, and can earn four to seven years in jail.  Apparently, the perp was a pretty, seemingly sweet young thing, and so her jail time was minimized by the judge – a sentence that was met with anger by the victim’s family as well as the by the prosecutor…and by me.

Ironically, it was also discovered that the victim herself had sent a text message and talked on her cell phone using the speaker function while driving before her car broke down. 

Please don’t think you are invincible, and the laws and recommendations about driving safely apply to everyone else, while you are “special.”  The lives of these two young women are forever changed.  One life was forfeited; the other woman is jailed and living with the guilt of having killed another human being because she just had to gossip to five friends about seeing a rock star.  Sad.