Trooper found guilty in fatal Illinois auto accident caused by distracted driving

The case of a man convicted of killing two teenagers in an Illinois car crash while text messaging and driving at 125 mph is a horrific example of the dangers of distracted driving.

Add in the fact that it was an Illinois State Trooper and it becomes clear that state and federal authorities continue to struggle in convincing motorists of the dangers of distracted driving. As we reported in March on our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer blog, the federal government is pushing for a nationwide ban on text messaging behind the wheel. Illinois passed its law, which went into effect Jan. 1, prohibiting all drivers from texting while driving and making it illegal to use hand-held cell phones in school zones and construction sites.

Hand held cell phone use by drivers has been prohibited within the City of Chicago since 2005.

The Illinois trooper pleaded guilty last month to reckless homicide and aggravated reckless driving counts, according to The Daily News Tribune. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years of probation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that distracted driving is responsible for 1 in 4 traffic accidents nationwide. The agency has found that driver inattention in the three seconds before a crash is a leading cause of accidents and near-accidents and that drivers using cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in an accident.

Yet an investigation by the New York Times last year, in its series “Driven to Distraction” found that drivers largely ignore research that continues to show the dangers of cell phone use while driving. The series won a Pulitzer Prize earlier this month, journalism’s highest honor.

A $24 million lawsuit has been filed against the trooper and Illinois State Police by the mother of the two teenagers killed in the crash.

The trooper was going 126 miles an hour while responding to a crash. Court documents show he was talking on his cell phone and e-mailing from the car computer. Ironically, the New York Times reported earlier this year that police and ambulance drivers may be among the most distracted drivers on the road. Modern emergency vehicles include sophisticated radios, on-board computers, navigation systems and cell phones and emergency responders are typically exempt from the laws prohibiting text messaging or cell phone use by drivers.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, the Chicago car accident attorneys and the Illinois injury lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

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