New Canaan Case Raises Awareness About Texting While Driving
Will McDonald, News Editor
June 6, 2012 • 143 views
Filed under News
Last week, a teenage girl in New Canaan was arrested and charged with negligent homicide, almost a month and a half after she had killed a jogger while driving on the busy New Canaan Avenue.
Although the case may initially sound like an accident, charges stem from a police investigation involving the girl’s iPhone, which was confiscated at the scene. Police experts found that the girl had not only been texting, but had also been using iTunes and had accessed the New Canaan High School website just seconds before the first 911 call was made regarding the first call about the injured jogger, who has been identified as Norwalk’s Kenneth Dorsey.
Dorsey, 44, suffered a broken back and numerous skull fractures. He was transported toNorwalk Hospital, where he was pronounced dead three hours later.
The case serves as a stark reminder of not only the dangers of using a phone while driving, but also of how one mistake can change a life irreparably in an instant.
“This is something that could have been easily avoided by either pulling over to the side of the road to text or not texting at all,” said Chris Lemone, Adviser to the Teen Awareness Group (TAG), which has performed numerous campaigns against texting and driving. “The girl certainly did not set out to do harm, but now has terrible consequences to deal with as well as a trauma to deal with for the remainder of her life.”
Despite the consequences, texting and driving is an issue that students at Staples are familiar with. “I’ve had several close calls with people who were either texting or under the influence, and I don’t think they were under the influence at 10 a.m.” said Peter Elkind ’14.
Currently, Connecticut is one of 31 states that ban all phone use – calling, texting, etc. – while operating a motor vehicle.
“I have never texted while driving,” said licensed driver Ben Bjornson ’14. “I know how dangerous it can be.”
However, for drivers of all ages, sometimes the temptation to look at a text overrules that knowledge of danger. After students viewed TAG’s Grim Reaper Day video concerning driving while intoxicated, Staples Principal John Dodig rose to the microphone and told a personal story. According to Dodig, he had been driving home from Staples one afternoon when he felt his iPhone buzz in his shirt pocket, indicating a message’s arrival.
“It was impulsive and a very powerful urge to read the message immediately,” he said. “I actually had the phone in my right hand when I realized what I was doing.”
While Dodig managed to catch himself before opening the message, he said that the vivid memory of the urge is seared in his brain.
Reading a text, however, is only half of the danger. While Patrick Lindwall ’15 doesn’t have his license, he says that he is still aware of the risk distractions are to drivers.
“I always make sure that the person I am sending a text to is not driving,” he said.
Whether receiving someone’s text or browsing the web on a phone, distracted drivers not only put themselves in danger, but, as theNew Canaan case illustrates, the lives of others as well.
“I understand how tempting it is for young drivers to think they can both drive and text at the same time,” said Dodig. “[But] nothing can be that important that you put your life and the lives of others in danger just to read or write a text message.”