In December 2011 Jake Owen was riding in a car with his father and sister, playing a video game in the back seat, when their car was rear-ended by a distracted driver on a cell phone. The distracted driver was going 62 mph when he hit Jake’s car. Jake was killed, while his father and sister suffered serious injuries. As a result of the accident, the driver was fined $1000. His attorney argued he was simply doing what everyone else does at the time of the accident. Although charged with vehicular homicide, he was not convicted.
As a result of Jake’s death, Maryland lawmakers eventually passed Jake’s Law creating tougher penalties for distracted driver resulting in a fatality. The law establishes a misdemeanor punishable by up to three years in prison and a $5000 fine. It also allows for cellular data to be collected after such an accident to determine if a phone was being used.
Many states have enacted some legislation to control cellular phone use while driving, including texting, but in many states these laws are considered secondary. This means law enforcement cannot pull over a driver for use of the phone alone, but can only cite the driver if some other infraction has occurred. Only time will tell if laws are enacted allowing law enforcement to access phone or text records when crashes occur. There have been only a limited number of cases involving records of cellular usage prior to fatal crashes.
If you are a parent concerned about distracted driving and its consequences for your teenager, consider RoadReady Family. This is the only app which can stop this distracted behavior. You can set the parameters and restrictions for how a phone can be used in a moving vehicle, and you can monitor the results. If you are concerned about the implications of distracted driving by those you love, you need RoadReady Family.