A school bus driver who was texting was the cause of a deadly December 2014 crash that killed two students and a teacher’s aid, according to a recently-released report filed at the conclusion of a six-month investigation into the eybcrash.
The 48-year-old bus driver was reportedly sending and receiving text messages when he made a sharp left turn, crossed over a concrete median and slammed into another school bus on Asheville Highway, investigators determined. The driver too suffered serious injuries and died earlier this month. Officials said had he survived, criminal charges would have been filed against him. Three wrongful death civil lawsuits have been filed against the school district.
The tragic outcome of this case is a reminder of how quickly a driver can lose control when distracted. Obviously, someone responsible for a busload of children has a great responsibility to ensure their safe transportation. But the fact is, every driver on the road owes a duty to the rest to drive carefully. Failure to do this resulting in injury can be the basis for a civil lawsuit for victims to recover damages.
Amid this emerging awareness of the dangers of texting and driving, auto manufacturers are responding with a wave of new technology intended to curb this behavior. Distraction isn’t solely the result of smartphones constantly buzzing and pinging, but that’s a big part of it. It’s also an aspect where car makers see opportunity to limit distraction.
According to a recent article published in The Huffington Post, a number of those companies are taking steps to make driving safer by helping to maintain driver focus.
For example, Ford has created a new operating system called SYNC. It allows drivers’ to send and receive text messages audibly, so they aren’t having to tear their eyes from the road to stay engaged.
Ford also has a feature called MyKey that gives parents the ability to block text messages and phone calls when a teenager is behind the wheel.
Auto manufacturer GM is also developing a feature that involves eye-tracking technology. Similarly, BMW announced it is working on a system that will give drivers the ability to simply point to the in-vehicle navigation system in order to take a call, rather than needing to actually pick up the phone.
Similarly, Hyundai Sonata models have incorporated Android Auto software that allows the phone’s interface on the dashboard screen, so drivers don’t have to look at their phone to stay connected. Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari models allow Apple Car Play that allows for the same kind of feature only for those with iPhones.
Although these features for the most part don’t entirely bar a driver’s ability to engage in outside communication, car company executives say they are trying to create features to meet the realistic need. They say drivers aren’t likely going to broken of the habit of looking at their phones. As a result, they are working to develop communication devices that will be in the driver’s field of vision so their focus won’t be taken from the road in front of them.
This is done with an understanding of just how dangerous distraction has become. The risk of a car accident quadruples when a motorist is on the phone, and use of a phone is the No. 2 cause of wrecks for teen drivers.
New technology features are popping up even in lower-end models, with manufacturers seeking to simplify the process wherever possible. Still, there remains question about whether these features actually make the driver safer or tempt them with additional modes of distraction.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Deadly Distraction: school bus driver texting caused fatal crash, June 5, 2015, By Jim Matheny, WBIR
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