Everyone knows that speeding can be dangerous. Even though many people still continue to text and use handheld devices while driving, most people also know that such behavior can lead to serious consequences, including serious injuries and even death. One would think that a police officer would know better than to combine speeding, texting and using an in-dash computer while on the highway. But such was not the case in 2007 when an Illinois state trooper crashed into a car carrying two sisters, causing the accident that claimed both girls’ lives. According to the Belleville News-Democrat, the former trooper has made a recent third attempt to get his driving privileges back after losing his license due to his actions leading up to the crash.
On the day of the accident, the trooper was responding to a crash in Mascoutah, over 20 miles from his location at the time on Interstate 64 near St. Louis. It was November 23, the day after Thanksgiving in 2007, and traffic was heavy along the interstate. Local police and rescue workers were already on the scene of the accident, but that did not prevent the trooper from proceeding towards the crash site at a speed of 126 miles per hour. In addition to driving at a speed nearly twice that of the posted limit of 65 m.p.h., the trooper was also talking on his cellphone and checking information on an in-dash computer.
The trooper averred that a car cut him off and he lost control of his vehicle. His patrol car crossed the median and ran into the sisters’ vehicle nearly head-on. The impact was so forceful, that the engine of the girls’ Mazda was found several hundred feet past the place where the car came to rest. The girls, aged 18 and 13 years, died in the fiery crash.
The trooper pled guilty to reckless driving, lost his driving privileges and resigned from the Illinois State Police. Now living in Texas, the trooper is trying to regain his driving privileges. The mother of the girls testified against him at the most recent hearing in July, as she did at the two previous hearings about license reinstatement.
Police inattentiveness while driving
A website devoted to the issue of police and driving-related incidents, policedriving.com, looked into whether an officer’s use of a computer while on the road constitutes distracted driving. The article concluded that officers undergo sufficient training on driving while using technology that they can multitask and use their computers while driving without causing harm. An officer interviewed in the article said he was used to driving with one hand on the wheel and the other on one of the array of devices in his patrol car.
However, other, general studies show that almost 80 percent of car crashes occur because the driver had looked away from the road in the seconds before the accident. As the Illinois trooper was using both his phone and computer prior to the accident, in addition to extreme speeding which would have further lessened his reaction time, his odds of crashing were extremely high.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a speeding driver or a distracted driver, you may want to contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss the facts of your case. An attorney can inform you about your rights under the law.