A Mississippi man recently stopped in Mobile is the perfect example for just about everything you should never do behind the wheel.
Our Tuscaloosa car accident lawyers are amazed that this individual didn’t cause a crash sooner.
The 19-year-old driver and his 22-year-old passenger were passing through the George Wallace Tunnel when they were stopped.
Officers say not only was he text messaging, he was doing so on two different phone simultaneously. Obviously, with no hands free, he was forced to steer the vehicle using his knees, something he said he’s been doing since he learned how to drive – three years ago. He called this “double texting.”
As if that weren’t enough, authorities found copious amounts of prescription pain and anti-anxiety medications throughout the vehicle, as well as an ounce of marijuana, which was tucked into his underwear.
And there was a 3-year-old child in the back seat.
Alabama State Troopers were called to the scene. Investigators learned that the prescription for the oxycodone, filled just a week earlier for 720 pills, was already half-consumed. Unsurprisingly, there was also $5,000 in cash in the glove compartment.
Charges of illegal possession of a prescription drug, illegal possession of a controlled substance and first-degree possession of marijuana soon followed for the driver and his passenger.
No mention was made regarding whether the driver was also cited for texting while driving, though there is no question that he certainly could have been. Last year, Alabama state legislators enacted a law barring texting while driving, though the fines are pittance compared to the damage these distracted drivers can cause. Fines are $25 for a one-time offense, $50 for the second and $75 for the third. It also results in two points added to your license, as well as a possible increase in auto insurance premiums.
Entering a phone number and talking is still legal, as is using a GPS device, though programming it will driving is not.
We also would have liked to see the individual face additional charges for either reckless driving or child endangerment — the latter charge is often filed when a person is drunk or engaging in some other dangerous activity behind the wheel with a child in the vehicle.
Perhaps the only good news about this whole situation, in addition to the incredible fact that no one was seriously hurt, is that maybe it will help bring awareness. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that at any given moment during the day, 2 out of 5 youthful drivers were observed to have been using a hand-held electronic device behind the wheel. That is more than double what it was just three years ago.
There is ample evidence that any kind of distraction can be dangerous, but texting involves all three major types of distraction. That is, visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (removing your hand from the wheel) and cognitive (taking your mind off the task before you).
That this individual was effectively doubling that risk is deplorable. We sincerely hope that whatever criminal sanctions he incurs will be enough to cause him to think twice before engaging in such action in the future.
‘Double-texting’ driver was steering with his knees, cops say, April 5, 2013, By Martha Neil, ABA Journal