James L. Caskey Jr., a former marathon runner, was hit by a car in 2008 while riding his bicycle in his North Naples, Fla. neighborhood. The 62-year-old died from his injuries. The driver of the car was ticketed for failing to yield at a stop sign and was found guilty and was fined. His license was suspended for six months. A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in state court which alleges that the driver was texting while driving. The texting-while-driving wrongful death lawsuit was filed in state court.
The Florida Legislature is considering a law banning texting — or all cell phone use while driving. If passed, Florida would join 19 other states with texting-while-driving bans. As reported, last month, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a federal ban on texting for commercial truck drivers. Alabama’s legislature is currently considering passage of legislation that would ban texting.
The victim’s widow is suing the driver of the car, a pharmaceutical representative, and Astellas Pharma US Inc., which owned the car, for her husband’s wrongful death. The lawsuit alleges that the driver, who was working at the time, engaged in intentional misconduct or gross negligence, by texting on his cell phone when the crash occurred. Cell phone carriers record sent messages to the minute and 911 calls are also recorded to the minute. These records will be evidence in the case.
The National Safety Council released a report recently that showed 28% of the roughly 1.6 million crashes yearly are caused by drivers on cell phones or texting. Studies back the necessity for such legislation, especially as texting increases. The International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry found that about 385 billion texts were sent in the first half of 2008, compared with more than 740 billion during that same period in 2009. When you add driving to the mix, studies show, that can be deadly. A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study determined truck drivers who texted were 23 times more likely to crash than non-distracted drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found texting drivers take their eyes off the road for about 4.6 seconds. That means while driving 55 mph, a driver would be crossing the entire length of a football field without looking out the windshield.
Tests by Car and Driver magazine showed sending and reading messages caused drivers to have significantly slower response times than those of drunken drivers. One drove an extra seven feet when reacting to brake lights while drunk, at 0.08%, the level at which drivers are presumed impaired in most states. While sober, that same driver went an extra 41 feet while texting and 45 feet more while reading a message.
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