As if there are not enough reasons to put the smartphone down while driving, let this one sink in

As if there are not enough reasons to put the smartphone down while driving, let this one sink in
20-year-old Abby Sletten hopped in her car this past spring and got on the interstate outside of Fargo, on the eastern edge of North Dakota. In that part of the country, there is plenty of space. The highways are straight and wide, and being in the northern end of the Great Plains, visibility can go on for miles and miles.

Driving speeds on the interstates in this neck of the woods are routinely higher too. Despite speed limits, it is not uncommon to see speeds in excess of 80 miles-per-hour (130km/h). If the weather is nice, there is enough visibility to see whatever may lie well ahead on the roadway. 

All that assumes that you are actually looking at the road.  Unfortunately for Abby, she was more concerned about texting and checking out photos on Facebook with her smartphone than actually driving her car. Cruising at about 85mph, the young woman slammed into an SUV, killing 89-year-old Phyllis Gordon, who was a passenger in the vehicle.

As the Gordon’s SUV, driven by her granddaughter, had apparently slowed down for what would be an illegal U-turn across the median on the highway, Abby was so engrossed in her phone that there is no evidence she even attempted to brake before colliding with the vehicle. This past week, Abby was arraigned in court on charges of negligent homicide.

Phyllis Gordon left behind eight grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. Abby’s future may also be marred by a felony conviction, which could carry a prison sentence of up to five years.

We love our gadgets too, but as it is plain to see, too much attention can wreck more than just a few people’s lives. In this case, one person, with one phone, changed the course of her life, that of her family, as well as dozens of members of another family, for the worse.

source: Ars Technica

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69 Comments

1. CX3NT3_713

Posts: 2350; Member since: Apr 18, 2011

Dammit!! When will people learn, texting and driving just doesn't mix

8. naittosan

Posts: 240; Member since: Jun 28, 2014

That's because it's always the other guy and they think they are not that other guy.

63. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

So true man. I put my phone on my car dock which is hard for me to reach when I drive. I can see texts coming in but I just ignore it lol If it's that important, people will call me instead. And yes I do drive with bluetooth on just in case anyone calls. It's impossible to pull my Z2 out of my pocket while driving, so I don't even bother to try anymore.

49. sukampret

Posts: 36; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

yeah it is stupid. just like alcohol and driving. i already have this doctrine for my self text is less important than call. if the text you receive is important for you to respond quickly, why not call back? it is much safer than texting. If texting back is mandatory, why not pull over for a minute? why not use speech recognition? the technology is there (handsfree, speech recognition, virtual asistant). why not using it? if you cannot use that techs, why bother buy a smartphone. the reality is, a lot of smartphone user is dumpeople

67. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

how is this going to sink in to anyone that talks and drives? People will never learn. When I'm driving I don't talk or text I drive where I need to go. If you need to make a call or text stop and pull over how hard is that? This woman deserve what she gets.

2. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3138; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

It would have been better if the little tart was the one who ended up pushing daisies.

10. engineer-1701d unregistered

Many things to take in to account here. 1 texting and driving against or not against the law in that state 2 at least it was a old lady 90 full life not much left anyway 3 was the car she hit doing illegal u turn in highway so that would make the car she hit at But should this girl lose he life to this. Why not ban her from cellphone and social networking for the next 15 years

15. SupermanayrB

Posts: 1188; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

Please tell me you have NOTHING to do with any legal system. You shouldn't even be making any breakroom corkboard decisions.

22. Rydsmith unregistered

He's actually right though. She was performing an illegal U-Turn, an illegal act and was killed because of it. If she ran out into the street because she was getting away after robbing someone, no one would care; but that was also an illegal act. If there is no law on texting and driving in her state, this will actually probably get thrown out and she will never see a day in court.

50. SupermanayrB

Posts: 1188; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

'2 at least it was a old lady 90 full life not much left anyway' 'But should this girl lose he life to this. Why not ban her from cellphone and social networking for the next 15 years' This is what I was referring to.

58. skymitch89

Posts: 1452; Member since: Nov 05, 2010

You need to re read the article. It clearly states that the elderly lady was the passenger & her granddaughter was driving.

66. DocOc

Posts: 143; Member since: Apr 23, 2014

You are missing the point. It doesn't matter what the Gordon's car was doing. If the girl was looking at the road she would have slowed down or changed lanes. What if someone had to slow down because they were sick or a deer was crossing the road? Also, no one can judge the value of someone's life based on how old they are. I'm sure the lady's grandchildren love her just the same. An no, this will not get thrown out.

68. Reluctant_Human

Posts: 913; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

She was performing an illegal U-turn.. If she wasn't looking at her cell phone maybe she could have reacted but then again maybe she wouldn't have and it wouldn't have been her fault. I'm not advocating texting and driving but there were other factors in this particular incident. If Abby gets tried with negligent homicide then Gordon's granddaughter should too.

65. elisha.siegelman

Posts: 20; Member since: Feb 28, 2014

That's nazi.

3. darkkjedii

Posts: 31102; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Sad, sad, sad, all the way around. RIP ma'am.

4. p51d007

Posts: 704; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

"making an illegal U turn"....so the woman was 85% the fault and the elderly couple was 15% at fault? C&I is C&I, or following too close, regardless if the person that was hit, was making an illegal U turn.

6. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3138; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

There is no excuse for crashing into anybody from behind. Safe following distances have been set in stone for decades for a reason: to allow you to come to a complete stop if necessary.

11. reckless562

Posts: 1153; Member since: Sep 09, 2013

NO ONE WAS FOLLOWING!!!! ILLEGAL U TURN!!!! she didnt see the car in the oppisite direction ahead of her make the illegal u-turn ON A HIGHWAY, kuz she was lookin at her phone, iphone probably, and hit the car. the u-turn making car should have probably been more patient too to wait for most of the traffic to clear b4 making the illegal u-turn. so all in all, jus bad driving by EVERYONE!!!!

45. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3138; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Son, I have over a million documented miles under my belt with 0 accidents (the IRS has my documents). There's NO EXCUSE for plowing into anybody for any reason. It doesn't matter if the lady was stopping for a cup of tea or having a stroke.

54. chebner

Posts: 249; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

You are so dumb I don't know why I'm typing this. Yes, it was an illegal turn, but it is still mostly the girls fault for hitting her. As a driver it is your responsibility to maintain control of your own vehicle. That means you have to make every effort to avoid idiots that pull out in front of you. God I hope you don't live in MN.

12. engineer-1701d unregistered

Crispin you must not know how to drive there is no way to stop a accident from the rear why do you think New cars have automatic breaking in them to help this. You can go 30mph and a car can stop to do illegal turn and would cause a crash What if a car on the interstate stopped to do uturn and caused a crash with a 10 car pile up do you fault the u turn car or the 10 cars in a pile up

32. reckless562

Posts: 1153; Member since: Sep 09, 2013

thank you sensible engineer, look at my other posts!!

47. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3138; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

All these sensor-equipped vehicles are for a-holes that have no clue as to how to drive. If you can't judge closing distance on a slower or parked car you have no business operating a motor vehicle. Unless you have total catastrophic brake failure, you can safely stop a car from hitting any other car on the road if you have proper skills. To answer your question, in the state of Florida every one of those 10 cars would be cited for following too closely. Don't know what kind of engineer you are but you're certainly not a MSME or even a BSME.

14. jmonteiro829

Posts: 261; Member since: Feb 13, 2012

I think this one is a tougher call than that. Say if she wasn't texting and hit someone that was going way slower than what is expected for a highway. Was there a slight incline then decline in the highway and that is where they were slowing to do the illegal u-turn? Not saying it was ok for that person to be texting and driving at all... I am totally against that as well. Should all the owning be on the driver that hit them if someone is also doing something that they shouldn't be doing? Just saying maybe she wouldn't have been able to maneuver to miss something that shouldn't have been there in the first place texting or not.

18. SemperFiV12

Posts: 949; Member since: Nov 09, 2010

I am very sad at the news, but very glad that this article was published here. Distracted driving IS A HUGE problem we are facing in the United States. It may be THE single most important factor I care about when it comes to road safety at the moment.

31. na7noo7

Posts: 278; Member since: Mar 29, 2014

This is exactly what Apple users do. Text and Drive, they do whatever an Apple user does and just throw their iPhone through the stairs.

42. reckless562

Posts: 1153; Member since: Sep 09, 2013

lmao i dont wana say it but its true. i seen my gas station cachier literally slam his p.o.s. iphone 5c on the counter and then THROW it across to the back room!!! then he switched his moodn n was like "come on," n i was gona say "those damn iphones, huh?" but was like was so taken aback i jus handed my $20 dollars on pump #5 n walked out!!! there was glass on the damn counter too he swept off like it was nothing!!!

35. ViewFromTheTop

Posts: 28; Member since: Sep 08, 2014

I admit to texting while driving. But then again, we've all done stupid things when we're drunk. /s

43. reckless562

Posts: 1153; Member since: Sep 09, 2013

lol? drunk driving and txting??? yea mee tooo :( once tho. once too many. i was looking for bar girl panocha lol.

38. hellonerds

Posts: 334; Member since: Aug 27, 2013

When im on yhe freeway I see people on their phones I back away or speed up away

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