Distracted Driving May Be Culprit in North Carolina Train Accident that Claimed Lives of Young Mother and Her 5-Year-Old

December 31, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

Witnesses say distracted driving may have contributed to causing the deadly Orange County, North Carolina train accident on December 22 that killed 26-year-old Erin Lindsey-Calkins and her five-year-old son Nicholas. Aven, her 4-month-old daughter, was pulled out of the wreckage.

According to witnesses, Lindsay-Calkins, an Efland resident, was using her cell phone as she drove toward the rail crossing. This could be the reason why though the crossing gate arm was down and the warning bells and lights went off she drove under the arm. Her vehicle then came to a stop on the train tracks and that is when an Amtrak Carolinian struck her vehicle. Nicholas was thrown from the car.

Distracted Driving
Driving while talking on a cell phone can be very dangerous. This distracted driving activity has been compared to drunk driving. One study reports that talking on a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle increases a motorist’s crash risk by up to eight times.

Although people are aware of the dangers of talking on the cell phone or text messaging, many motorists continue to practice distracted driving because they don’t really comprehend that they can hurt themselves or others as a result. According to a UNC Highway Safety Research Center survey, almost 60% of adult drivers in the state have admitted to using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle.

While there is now a statewide ban on texting or e-mailing while driving in North Carolina, only minor drivers and school bus operators are banned from using a cell phone while driving. Unlike some other states, there is no ban on handheld cell phones.

This week, the federal government launched Distraction.gov. The Web site is dedicated to fighting distracted driving through education, information, and awareness.

A driver can be held liable for causing a North Carolina car accident if he or she was engaged in distracted driving at the time of the collision. Some other examples of distracted driving include fidding with a stereo or GPS device, reading, putting on making-up, or applying nail polish. These seemingly harmless activities have resulted in injuries and deaths.

Train victim was on her cell phone, Newsobserver.com, December 31, 2009

Woman, child killed in train collision, ABC Local, December 22, 2009

Cellphones and Driving, Insurance Information Institute, December 2009

Related Web Resources:
Cell Phone Driving Laws, GHSA



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