I started Teens Against Distracted Driving before the texting while driving laws were put in place across the country. Being a personal injury lawyer in Seattle and working as a Kirkland wrongful death attorney I saw the grave danger mixing text messaging and driving posed and wanted to take actions to curtail the problem before it got out of hand. Sadly, the government waited to make texting while driving illegal until well after the problem cropped up.
Texting while driving laws just recently went into effect, with most states taking on the laws in 2010. The problem, however, started 7 years before legislation was passed. In 2006 (5 years ago) Victoria BC made its second negligent driving conviction from texting while driving.
The fatal accident happened when 22-year-old Marcus Johnstone was driving two teenage girls, who were sitting in the back seat of his vehicle. Johnstone received a long text message asking his thoughts on the girls in the backseat of his car when he lost control and struck a power pole. The accident killed both girls in his car and gave Johnstone a 6 year- 9 month prison sentence for negligent driving.
While text messaging technically started in 1993, it wasn’t until 2000- 2004 that is started becoming more commonly used as cell phones started offering the service and cell phones became more popular. While fatal texting while driving accidents were clearly a problem during this time- legislatures made no move as the number of text message users was relatively low for a few reasons; there were not nearly as many cell phone users, teenagers were less likely to have cell phones, internet, e-mail and Facebook were not available on cell phones, and publicity for the dangers was non existent.
Since the laws came so late into the epidemic- the problem continues to grow. The only way for us to end the rising number of deaths from texting while driving is for each of us to make a conscious decision to not text behind the wheel. Visit Teens Against Distracted Driving and take the pledge to not text while driving.