A 23-year-old driver could potentially face some serious criminal charges after failing to appear in court regarding a fatal distracted-driving car accident in Illinois. Radio 720 WGN reports that the accident happened when a woman was driving down Illinois Highway 53 as she was looking through her cell phone. Officials say that she crashed her vehicle into a pickup that was parked on the side of the highway. The 39-year-old owner of the pickup was outside of the vehicle changing his tire. After the accident, he was pinned and later died.
The female driver has been cited for improperly using the lane, texting while driving and driving on the shoulder of the roadway. Prosecutors are saying that with continued research, they could potentially file more serious charges against the driver, especially now that the victim has died.
Our Chicago car accident attorneys understand just how dangerous distracted driving can be. As we recently discussed on our Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, approximately 5,400 people died in 2009 because of accidents in the U.S. that reported the involvement of a distracted driver. There are a number of distractions that a driver can engage in, including the use of a cell phone, sending text messages, reading maps, interacting with GPS devices, talking with other passengers and listening to music too loudly. All of these distractions are preventable as are accidents that are caused by distracted drivers.
The day after the Illinois accident, the young driver confessed to looking through her phone's contact list just before the accident happened. She also said that she put her phone down just before her vehicle hit the truck. She says she was forced to swerve to avoid the accident. Instead, she overcorrected her turn, hit a semi and then slammed into the man's pickup truck.
The family of man fatally injured in the accident has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the young driver. They seek more than $50,000 in damages. The family states that they're merely seeking justice for the death of their family member.
The hearing has been scheduled for the 13th of October. Unfortunately, the judge was unable to issue a warrant for the defendant's arrest because she has only been cited for mere traffic violations.
"I have absolutely nothing I can do at this time," said the judge to the family.
According to Illinois state law, no driver is allowed to use a cell phone while driving through a school zone or a work construction zone. Drivers under the age of 19 have been banned from using a cell phone while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. All drivers in Chicago are prohibited from using a cell phone. Drivers throughout the entire state are prohibited from text behind the wheel.
Drivers using a cell phone are four times more likely to be involved in a motor-vehicle accident. Cell phone use gives a driver the same reaction time as a driver who is legally drunk with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08.
Distracted driving-related accidents are 100 percent preventable with proper driver awareness. If you absolutely need to take a call or respond to a text message, you're urged to pull over and deal with your business then. No one's life is worth losing over a phone call.