The teenager and four passengers in the car died in the crash. They had just graduated from High school together a few days previously.
A few minutes before the first 911 call was made regarding the crash, the driver had been talking to a friend following her in another car. Only two minutes before the report of the crash, the driver’s phone was used to text message another friend.
It doesn’t appear any alcohol or drugs were to blame in causing the crash. Bailey Goodman, the driver, had only a junior driver’s license which meant she was not legally allowed to drive after 9 p.m. without supervision — the crash occurred at about 10 p.m. — or to have so many teenage passengers with her in her car.
It is common knowledge that driving while talking on a cell phone can be a distraction–but how much of a distraction? Recently I watched an older episode of the discovery Channel’s MythBusters where they tested whether driving with an illegal blood alcohol level was just as dangerous as driving while talking on the cell phone. Both drivers had to drive the same driving course while: sober and attentive, sober but talking on the cell phone, and finally while legally drunk after testing at an alcohol limit of over .08% — all with a driving examiner in the car.
In this test, the cell phone driving impaired the judgment of the drivers just as much as, and in some instances more than, driving while intoxicated. While the test isn’t conclusive, it is certainly very interesting.
A teenage new driver can be very distracted just carrying a group of teenagers in her car. If you throw a cell phone into this mix, it creates an even greater distraction. A few years ago when I was a volunteer worker with teens, I remember one of the girls telling me that her parents wouldn’t allow her to have teenage passengers until she had been driving for over a year. I thought this was a bit harsh. Now as a parent, and after reading this story, I think it was a smart move on the parent’s part.
Teenagers are going to make careless decisions at times–that is youth. However, how many adults are still driving recklessly while talking on their cell phone? I’ve talked on the cell phone while driving, but I don’t want my son to be the least bit distracted when he is behind the wheel. Of course by the time he is driving, who knows what new gadget will have taken the place of the cell phone–probably something that is even more of a distraction if the new iPhone is any indication.