Friday, July 1, 2011

Woman Pleads Guilty To Causing Fatal Accident on BRP

On November 17, 2010, a northbound vehicle crossed over the center line on the Blue Ridge Parkway and collided with a southbound vehicle, resulting in the death of driver of the latter. On June 17th, the driver of the northbound vehicle, Sarah Cook-Ball, who was injured in the collision along with the decedent's wife, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor death by vehicle in federal court, according to a report on NPS Digest yesterday.

The main contributing factor to the cause of the wreck was Cook-Ball talking on a cell phone, causing her to fail to give her full time and attention to driving. At the sentencing hearing, Cook-Ball spoke from a prepared statement expressing her regret and sorrow at not paying attention while driving. The victim's wife also spoke from a prepared statement, forgiving Cook-Ball and expressing the need to prohibit the use of cell phones and similar devices while operating a vehicle. Cook-Ball received a suspended jail sentence, 18 months of supervised probation, revocation of her driver’s license, and 100 hours of community service. She was also banned from all NPS areas for 18 months.

Anyone who has read this blog for some time knows that I'm a full believer in personal freedoms and rights. However, the boundaries of personal freedoms end when they infringe on your neighbors rights. In my view, the use of cell phones while driving is a clear endangerment to the safety of everyone else on the road. As a cyclist, I can't tell you how many times I see people swerving in other lanes, not looking both ways at a stop sign and/or just gliding through the stop, driving too slow, or driving on some other cars bumber - all because they're not paying attention as a result of talking on the phone.

I know some states have banned or partially banned talking while driving, but I think it's time for all states to follow suit.

What are your thoughts? I may be in the minority here. Believe it or not, I don't even own a cell phone, and really don't have plans to ever buy one.



Chuck Allen said...

Right on Jeff. As a cyclist and as a driver I know the risks of other drivers' inattention due to cell phone use. We just recently lost a young woman (and former student of my wife's) because she pulled out in traffic while looking at a text. I see the bad driving and inattention every day and have had some close calls. I think this woman was only charged because she was on NPS property. I hate to say it but I highly doubt that any charges would have ever been brought by my local NC town, county, or state authorities in the same case. I believe that cell phone use while driving is as potentially dangerous as DUI.

The Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

Chuck - I might be wrong on this, but I'm pretty sure a study has come out in the last 6 months or so, showing that cell phone use while driving was as bad or actually worse than DUI.

Anonymous said...

I agree that there are a lot of idiots out on our roads who pose a danger to the rest of us while they concentrate on their cell phone conversations. But, why give Big Brother any more power than he already has? It's the same thing with all of these states banning smoking in restaurants and bars. Even if you don't do it yourself, do you really want to let the gov't regulate our behaviors? Where will they stop???

Anonymous said...

When your personal behavior endangers others then it is the obligation of the government (the people) to regulate your dangerous behavior.

Anonymous said...

as a correction..she was talking on her phone..but she was using hands free...and only crossed the center lane due to being blinded by the sun when she came around a curve.

Mesa Personal Injury said...

Jeff, I couldn't agree more. Road safety is as simple as driving responsibly - most of the time. Don't people notice that often the cause of an accident is human error? I believe people should really avoid using their electronic devices while driving. Or do we need to setup jammers on the road just to enforce this?