Officials in Westborough, MA believe the high school senior who was tragically killed in a car accident this month had been texting just before the crash.
Pablo Salcedo was fatally injured on January 5, when the minivan he was operating crashed on Route 9. Salcedo was driving west when he struck some sand-filled barrels, a barrier, and then rolled onto its side in the eastbound lane when it hit another vehicle.
Police in Westborough found that Salcedo was distracted through the use of his cellphone to read text messages, and there was absolutely no indication that he tried to break. Police called it a “preventable accident”
While almost entirely preventable, distracted driving accidents account for nearly 20% of all motor vehicle collisions in the United States. In 2011, 3,330 people were killed and 387,000 were injured in as the result of distracted driving. A person who is texting or using a smart phone while driving is 23 times more likely to get into an accident than someone who is not distracted. 5 seconds is the average time a person’s eyes are taken off the road while texting, according to the United States Ad Council, and at 55mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field blindfolded!
In addition to smart phone use, individuals may also be distracted in the car by:
• Eating or drinking
• Talking to passengers
• Reading, including maps
• Using a navigation system
• Watching a video
• Adjusting the radio
Many states across the country have legislated laws that ban texting and adopted graduated licensing systems to prevent and raise awareness of distracted driving, yet the best way to decrease distracted driving accidents is for drivers to avoid distractions altogether. Remember that distracted driving accidents are almost 100% preventable. If you’re a parent with teenagers, speak to them about the dangers of distracted driving, and set a good example while you’re driving by not answering or making phone calls, text messaging, or using your smart phone.