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.