Fatal Negligence: Police Officer Killed by Distracted Driver

Published on January 18th, 2019

distracted driver car accident thurswell lawIt has been a deadly 2019 for police officers in the United States. Seven officers have been killed since the first of the year. Though all tragic, one of the fatalities is notable for its cause – a distracted driver. Officer Clayton Townsend was standing by the driver’s side door of a car he pulled over for a traffic stop near Scottsdale, Arizona, when he was struck and killed by a distracted driver who admitted to texting while operating his vehicle.

The driver of the at-fault vehicle crossed two lanes of traffic, entered the right-side emergency lane, and collided with the passenger vehicle and then struck the officer. Townsend suffered head trauma from the impact. The 40-year-old driver was arrested for manslaughter, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and endangerment.

The Epidemic of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has become an epidemic and many of the car accidents caused by distraction involve smartphone use. People can’t seem to put their phones down, even when they’re doing something incredibly important, like operating a moving vehicle.

Understanding distracted driving is one of the first methods of combatting the problem. You don’t even have to have your phone in your hand to be distracted. And distraction comes from plenty of other places and not just your phone – kids in the backseat, noisy passengers, music, eating, daydreaming.

  • Your brain can’t multitask. Moving images are processed more slowly when you’re listening to someone talking on the phone and your field of vision narrows.
  • You’re missing things. Nearly half of what is around you can go unobserved while distracted, like other motorists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists.
  • You’re moving faster than you realize. If you’re traveling at 55mph but are focused on your smartphone at the same time, the equivalent is moving from one end of a football field to another with blinders on.
  • Your hands-free tools aren’t helpful. You may feel like you’re taking proper precautions by putting your phone away and using speakerphone or Bluetooth in the car, but this creates a false sense of security. Your brain is still distracted by listening and talking. Voice-to-text, studies show, is more distracting than typing by hand.
  • Your navigation app is putting you in danger. Yes, a navigation tool like your built-in GPS or Waze can get you from point A to point B, but using tech assistance to reach an unfamiliar destination won’t happen safely if your attention is drawn down to your phone instead of straight ahead at the road.

There Is No Excuse for Distracted Driving

You may argue that you can’t get somewhere new without using a navigation system, that your boss will not tolerate an email or text that goes unanswered for too long, that your kids in the backseat need your attention ASAP, that you cannot ignore the call that comes in. These acts all contribute to negligence.

There is one simple solution to combat most of the temptations of distracted driving – pull over and deal with things while your car is stopped and you’re not trying to split your attention between two different things.

If you have lost a loved one or been involved in a car accident because of a distracted driver, schedule a consultation with the Michigan auto accident lawyers at Thurswell Law to discuss your situation. You deserve financial compensation for your pain, suffering, and expenses. We do not charge any fees unless you collect. Call (248) 354-2222 today.

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