Social Media Use and Car Accidents

Social Media Use and Car Accidents:  8 Real Life Examples That Reveal The Dangerous Combination Of Driving And Social Media Use

Social media use and car accidents shouldn’t be a common “go to” theory when investigating why a collision occurred, but unfortunately it is.  Social media can be great.  It keeps us in touch with everyone, all of the time. Just by clicking on your tablet or smartphone you can find out the latest gossip from celebrities you love or share a photo with friends on the other side of the world.  When it comes to social media use and car accidents, social media can be very dangerous.

The 2012 research study published by IAM and the Transport Research Laboratory examined social media use and car accidents.  Specifically, they looked at how drivers performed while accessing social networking websites on their smartphones. Participants in the study used a car simulator while engaging in social media.

The study found the participants’ reaction times were reduced by approximately 38% when sending or receiving Facebook messages. Important events on the road were ignored by the social networkers, and their reaction time was markedly delayed.   Potentially, this means they could be more likely to veer into other road users or even onto pavements.  The researchers revealed that using a smartphone for social networking is more dangerous than many other dangerous driving behaviors. For example, the reaction time of those who used marijuana were reduced by around 21% and drivers on the road with .08 amount of alcohol have a 12.5% reduction in their reaction times. The study made it very apparent that there is a direct correlation between social media use and car accidents.

The danger of social media use and car accidents might explain why reality star Kendell Jenner is making a lot of buzz over an Instagram video she recently uploaded.  The daughter of Bruce and Kris Jenner, Kendall drove her car while screaming out the lyrics to Avril Lavigne’s song “Sk8er boy” with friend Ashley Skye also in the car. Now this in itself isn’t all a big deal.  It was the way the public learned about this that is the bigger problem. Kendall Jenner posted it on Instagram as it was happening.

Jason Epstein, an attorney and the creator of TADD–Teens Against Distracted Driving knows all too well the risk of social media use and car accidents.  He said the following about Kendall’s post:

“If I were advising Jenner, I would think that the morally responsible thing to do would be to do some sort of outreach to say it’s a mistake, and it’s not how people should be driving, and driving is dangerous, and I wasn’t demonstrating safe behavior, and I promise to do better in the future.”

Some feel that Jenner is being overly criticized for posting this video.  People Against Distracted Driving president Mike Kellenyi poignantly points out why the video (which has since been taken down) is a big deal:

“Death by distraction is real, and no star or her family should set an example that will likely kill people!  Kendall’s driving behavior is every parents nightmare.”

Just how real is the risk of distracted driving and more specifically the risk of social media and driving?  Are the dangers of social media use and car accidents really something the public should be concerned about?  It is.  Fox Law put together eight tragic real life examples of social media use and car accidents.  The examples below reveal just dangerous social media and driving can be.

Example 1, Social Media Use and Car Accidents | Cheerleader Dies While Texting Teammates About Practice

Alex Summers, a bright and popular 17-year-old cheerleader, received a text message from a friend, asking what time cheerleading practice was that day.  The friend never heard back from the promising young high school student.

This was because Summers was killed when she lost control her car and smashed into a tree, as she tried to type a text message back to her friend.

“She was actively texting at the time of impact,” Lt. Eric Hermick of the Butler barracks of the Pennsylvania State Police said Wednesday.

Crash site investigators reported finding a cell phone at the scene, with a text message partially written, he said. Police discovered that Alexis had an incomplete group text that she was going to send to the rest of her cheerleading squad reminding them about practice. To add to the tragedy, the heartbreaking crash came just eight hours after her state agreed to outlaw text messaging at the wheel.

Social Media Use and Car Accidents | Woman Dies Moments After Posting on Facebook About How A Song Called “Happy” Makes Her Happy

A woman driving on a North Carolina highway who died in a head-on collision was on Facebook just seconds before the crash.

32-year-old Courtney Ann Sanford died at the scene of the crash around 8:30 a.m. Sanford’s 2005 Toyota Corolla was going north on Business 85 when it crossed the median and hit a metal recycling truck heading southbound, police said. The truck ended up hitting a tree. The 73-year-old truck driver wasn’t injured. Lt. Lee Lanier said a look at Sanford’s Facebook account showed she had taken pictures of herself and posted them while driving.

Investigators also said Sanford wrote, “The happy song makes me HAPPY,” but Lanier said it wasn’t clear if she was referring to the hit song by Pharrell Williams.

Her car crossed the road’s median and slammed into the truck, catching on fire. The truck hit a tree. “The Facebook text happened at 8:33 a.m. We got the call on the wreck at 8:34 a.m.,” Lt. Chris Weisner of the High Point Police department told the news station. “In a matter of seconds, a life was over just so she could notify some friends that she was happy.”

Example 3, Social Media Use and Car Accidents | Aspiring Rapper Tweets About Drinking and “YOLO,” Then Dies In Car Crash

Ervin McKinness, a 21-year old southern California rapper known also as &’Jew’elz&’ and & ‘Inkyy&’ posted his final message on Twitter before getting into a fatal car accident in Ontario, California. The aspiring young rapper had dreams of becoming a superstar in the music industry, but also lived a life on the edge.

McKinness sent out a very cocky and drunken tweet proclaiming “YOLO” just minutes before a fatal car crash took his life.

“Drunk af going 120 drifting corners #F*ckIt YOLO” One minute later, McKinness sent out one final tweet: “Driving tweeting sipping the cub f-yolo I’m turning it up.”

McKinness, from Southern California, was killed along with four friends over the Labor Day weekend after the 2005 Nissan Sentra ran a red light and crashed into a wall. At 1:19 a.m. on September 2, 2012 – minutes before the crash Ontario police says that McKinness’ friend Jonathan Watson, 21, was actually the driver.  The other men who died instantly are Dylan George, 20, of Ontario; Jonathan Watson, 21, of San Bernardino; and JaJuan Bennett, 23, of Rancho Cucamonga. During the investigation, police stated that it is likely alcohol was involved, based on the statements made before the crash.

 Example 4, Social Media Use and Car Accidents | Bride-to-be killed Moments after selfie on road to bachelorette weekend

A weekend bachelorette party in Missouri ended before it began when the bride-to-be was killed in a tragic car accident.

Just eight minutes before the crash, Moreno took a selfie of the two women in the Malibu as they traveled to the bachelorette party. The magic moment is now a tragic memento for those she left behind. Collette Moreno, 26, was a passenger in a car driven by Ashley Theobald.  Theobald that was trying to pass a truck when it collided with a vehicle coming the other way. Both women thought the way ahead was clear but failed to see a hill.

“We both thought it was clear and there was a hill that neither one of us saw,” Ms Theobald said. “I tried to go around and there was a truck coming and I swerved and he swerved with me.” “She has really bad asthma … and she was coughing, so I was like, ‘OK, we have to pass,'” stated Theobald.

Theobald, who was not only Moreno’s best friend, but also her maid of honor, sustained only minor injuries from the crash. She initially thought Moreno would also be OK.

“I was talking to her,” Theobald said. “She couldn’t talk back but she was nodding at me. I didn’t know it was as bad as it was because she wasn’t physically super beaten-up.”

Melvin Garber, the 25-year-old driver of the pickup truck, was not seriously injured in the crash, police said.

Moreno’s fiancé, 28-year-old Jesse Arcobasso, has now lost his wife-to-be just four weeks before their wedding.   Jesse says of how Moreno’s five-year-old son Braden is coping with the tragedy.

“He doesn’t quite understand everything just yet. I know it’s going to take time.”

Moreno and Arcobasso were to be married the month after the fatal vehicle accident. Instead, friends and relatives who had helped arrange her wedding prepared for her funeral. According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, Theobald faces charges of careless and imprudent driving.

Example 5, Social Media Use and Car Accidents | Man Texts That He Needs To Quit Texting, Then Drives Off Cliff 

Chance Bothe, a 21-year-old college student from Granado, Texas, was driving along a road and texting when something struck him: perhaps he shouldn’t be driving along a road and texting.

As reported by , he was texting back and forth with a friend.

Then he caught himself and texted: “I need to quit texting, because I could die in a car accident.”

His truck plunged into a ravine and landed in a creek. The engine ended up in his lap, the car’s roof crumpled his forehead and shook his brain. After more than three weeks in a coma, Chance Bothe regained consciousness

Booth has had a difficult and slow recovery, but he knows he is lucky as most who experience a similar accident like his do not survive. He hopes to finish college, but his brain injury will make college harder. And he wants other drivers to know what can happen when you look away from the road to send a text.

“God saved my life somehow. I know I died like three times but God didn’t keep me away from coming back here,” Chance said. “I have a higher purpose in being here. And I think it’s to tell everyone not to text message and drive.”

 Example 6, Social Media Use and Car Accidents  | Right Before Fatal Accident Girl Posts That Driving And Facebooking Isn’t Safe

18-year-old college student Taylor Sauer knew how unsafe posting to Facebook was while driving her vehicle.   She knew how dangerous social media use and car accidents were.  Moments before the fatal crash, she had posted a message on Facebook saying:

“I can’t discuss this now. Driving and facebooking is not safe! Haha.”

Investigators discovered that Sauer had been using her phone to send and receive text messages and access Facebook an average of every 90 seconds during the drive. She was going at about 80 m.p.h. when she sent the text then slammed into the back of a semi-trailer which was slowly driving up a hill.

Sauer’s parents Clay and Shauna have now launched a safety campaign that shed light on the dangers of social media use and car accidents.  The campaigns focus is to influence drivers away from using cell phones and social media when driving. They have also called for a ban on texting while driving. Idaho already has an inattentive driving law, but Taylor’s mom deflects concerns that a specific texting ban is duplication because it has the power to get people’s attention and the existing law is difficult to enforce. The proposed ban has already passed Idaho’s House Transportation Committee.

 Example 7, Social Media Use and Car Accidents  | Girl Crashes Into School Bus And Dies While Texting On First Day Of School

 A 17-year-old high school senior from southeastern Minnesotais dead after crashing her minivan into a school bus near the town of Byron.

Deianerah “D.J.” Logan was 17 when she died, which happened as she was driving home from the first day of her senior year of high school.  She was described as a popular 17-year-old with a promising future.  With the accident investigation complete, Logan’s family released a statement about the tragedy:

“Her error in judgment as a teenager in this brief moment in time was paid for with the highest price ever … her life. We would much rather be grounding her for this mistake than never hearing her laughter fill the house again.”

The family said that the details of the accident are “devastating,” but they sought to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

 Example 7, Social Media Use and Car Accidents  | Truck Driver Crashes Into Police While Looking At Pornography

33-year-old Jorge Espinoza was driving his 8-wheel truck on an Arizona highway in May this year when he smashed into three police cars and two fire trucks parked at the scene of an earlier accident.

Police say that a satellite-linked camera on truck driver Jorge Espinoza’s dashboard shows what appeared to be Spinoza’s white, Samsung smart phone flying from his hand during a fatal collision.

Officer Tim Huffman, 47, was killed on May 6 while investigating an earlier crash on Interstate 8, about 40 miles east of Yuma. An 18-wheeler driven by Jorge Espinoza, 33, had plowed into Huffman’s patrol car and several other vehicles.

The dashboard video that emerged allegedly also shows that Espinoza was driving while surfing the internet looking at “photographs of several women in provocative positions, wearing little clothing.”

He allegedly placed his wallet over the phone in an attempt to hide it. Espinoza, who escaped from the wreck unhurt, said he didn’t see the police vehicles because he was looking in his mirror at a passing truck when he suddenly felt the violent jolt from the crash.

The family of the Arizona police officer killed in the line of duty are filing a personal injury lawsuit against the Yuma truck driver who hit him. The complaint alleges that Espinoza violated federal regulations by using his cell phone while driving and that he “intentionally covered the in-cab dash camera with his wallet” to hide what he was doing.

Example 8, Social Media Use and Car Accidents  |  Facebook Messages Lead To Deadly Collision

A Michigan woman received a sentence of 18 to 60 years in prison for causing a fatal car accident over a Facebook fight.   23-year-old Torrie Emery admitted her actions caused a deadly car crash.

Investigators said prior to the crash, Danieele Booth and Emery were fighting via Facebook messages about the affections of a man who is in prison. The hostile message exchange turned into real life violence when Emery spotted Booth in a car driven by Aleasha Abernathy last July. She chased them at 90 miles-per-hour.

“There were two beautiful girls and all over some man in prison,” Abernathy said. “Was it worth it?”

Abernathy was driving the vehicle and, in an attempt to evade Emery, traveled at a high rate of speed, ran a red light and hit a small dump truck broadside. Abernathy was killed in the crash, and Booth was listed in critical condition at a local hospital. “I don’t know what to say to you. I come to court and I look at you, and I want to just run over there and do what you did to my daughter,” said Angel Abernathy, the victim’s mother. Emery was sentenced to 18 to 60 years in prison.


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