Deaths from distracted driving: a sample

cell phone - text messaging death symbolThe debate over distracted driving too often bogs down in statistics, politics and theory. Here is a dose of reality, taken from U.S. and Canadian police reports made over the past 12 months:

A funeral was held this week for a teenager who died in a New Brunswick texting-and-driving accident. He was sending a text message when he lost control of his car and crashed into a rock wall. … A 17-year-old girl died after she drove into a ditch and rolled her car because she was distracted while sending a text message, Iowa investigators say. … An Arden, N.C., teenager killed in a car crash was retrieving a text message in the seconds before she veered across the center line and into oncoming traffic, police said. … Eight young people from Western New York have lost their lives in texting-and-driving related accidents in the last three years, the latest a college student from Sanborn who died in a one-vehicle accident.

A Baraboo, Wisc., woman who died when her car plowed into a truck was text messaging at the time of the accident, officials said. She was pronounced dead at the scene. … The death of a young landscaper in Edmunton was caused by a distracted driver who didn’t even realize she had hit a person, according to a report. Witnesses said the woman got out of her car while texting on her cellphone. … A preschool teacher from Fort Morgan, Colo., was texting-while-driving when she crashed her truck and died. Officials said there was a 49-second gap between the time when the 23-year-old sent her last text and the first 911 call of the accident.

A Georgia teenager died after crashing head-on into a another car while sending a text message. His grandmother said he sent six texts just minutes before the collision. … A hit-and-run driver who killed a Vancouver teacher was texting and smoking a cigar at the time. He was sentenced to five years in prison. … A musician on his way to a show was killed in a one-car wreck Saturday while sending a text message, the Washington County coroner said. … A businessman died while riding his bicycle after a driver reaching for her cell phone struck him as he rode along an Arizona road, police said.

A 16-year-old Stanley girl crashed while writing a text message to her mother and died Sunday night, witnesses and investigators said. … A Bartow man was texting while driving when he hit a garbage truck and caused a worker to lose both his legs, prosecutors said. … A 17-year-old who crashed his car when he went to pick up his ringing cellphone has died of his injuries, according to authorities in Ontario. … Investigators said a 19-year-old northeast Kansas woman killed in a car accident was texting while driving. …. Police say a British Columbia man was text messaging while driving just before he was killed in a crash on the Trans-Canada Highway.

A Bainbridge man was sentenced to jail for severely injuring a woman while he was texting and driving. The man said he had earbuds in while listening to music and sending a text message at the time. “I want my brain back, it’s not good now, I had a good brain,” the victim told the court. … A Lebanon, Pa., college athlete was struck and killed after a driver dropped her iPod and was picking it up when she lost control of her car and crossed two lanes of traffic, hitting the pedestrian. … A 19 year-old in Utah died after being thrown from his car. Police believe he was texting just moments before the crash. They found a partially finished text message on his cell phone.

Also: Read our roundup of distracted driving deaths from May 2009.

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