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Deadly Accident Highlights Dangers of Distracted Driving

In December of 2009, Jessica Lane was involved in an accident that killed 22 year-old Derrick Rosado. According to police reports, Lane failed to stop at an intersection and struck another vehicle carrying Rosado and three other people. Rosado was pronounced dead at the scene, while the three other occupants of the car were severely injured.

Lane recently plead guilty to vehicular homicide, aggravated assault and driving while intoxicated. As part of her plea agreement, Lane admitted that she was driving drunk at the time of the accident, with a blood alcohol content of .12 percent; she also admitted to talking on her cell phone at the time of the crash. As a first time DWI offender, Lane will face up to five years in prison at her sentencing according to an NBC report.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 11,773 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in 2008. In New Jersey, there were 154 alcohol related fatalities during the same time period, 73 percent of which involved drivers that had an alcohol consumption level over twice the legal limit.

While the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol have been well documented, distracted driving poses another set of risks that can be just as deadly. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S.DOT), distracted driving is “any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing.” The distractions come in three main types:

· Visual – taking eyes off the road

· Cognitive – anything that causes you to lose concentration or focus

· Manual – taking your hands off the wheel

The USDOT notes that texting and talking on a cell phone are two of the most dangerous types of distracted driving because all three types of distractions are involved. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, distracted driving resulted in nearly 5,500 deaths and over 448,000 injuries in 2009. Cell phones were directly responsible for 16 percent of those fatalities.