Distracted Driving “Sole Reason” For Tragedy, Judge Says


We concluded our post on Monday about the rise in traffic fatalities in Ohio this year by noting that there is not sufficient data to determine the role distracted driving might be playing in the increase. This June 2012 video from WBNS-TV discusses 58-year-old Daniel Jacobs pleading guilty to the third-degree felony of aggravated vehicular homicide in connection with the July 2010 death of a 16-year-old Pickerington High School student. According to WBNS, Jacobs initially told officers arriving at the scene that the sun had gotten into his eyes. On August 10, 2012, the Columbus Dispatch reported that he told the author of a pre-sentencing investigation that a blown left rear tire on his car triggered the crash.

According to the Dispatch, investigators used cellphone records to determine that Jacobs had been texting close to the time of the crash. “Your distracted driving is the sole reason for this tragedy,” Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Kimberly Cocroft told Jacobson August 9, saying that he did not understand “the depth and gravity” of what he had done. Cocroft sentenced Jacobs to 3 ½ years in prison, suspended his driver’s license for the maximum of 10 years and required him to speak to high school students and other groups about the dangers of distracted driving when he is released. Prosecutor Ron O’Brien told the Dispatch that the conviction for aggravated vehicular homicide while texting was the first in Franklin County.

Two days later, 21-year-old Ryan Spofford lost control of his pickup in Concord Township during heavy rain and went off the side of Ravenna Road, traveling 75 feet downhill before crashing into a house. The News-Herald reported on August 13, 2012, that the resident of the home was not injured, but Spofford had to be transported to Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights for neck and back pain. An investigation later showed Spofford was talking on his cellphone at the time of the crash, according to the News-Herald.

This pair of accidents not only demonstrates that texting or talking on a cellphone while driving is dangerous, but also that authorities and attorneys can examine phone records to determine if the driver was distracted at the time of the collision. As the fatal accident Jacobs caused shows, matters are only made worse when a distracted driver is dishonest about what caused the accident.

Additional information about the serious car accidents caused by distracted drivers can be found on our website, and you should know that you may be entitled to damages if you or a loved one has sustained catastrophic injuries in an accident caused by a driver who was talking or texting on a cellphone while behind the wheel. You can use the form located on this page or contact our firm at (513) 232-2000 to schedule a free consultation.

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