Smartphones make young bones" equusadm_in
Driving a car is a risky business at the best of times and it has been exacerbated by the proliferation of electronic gadgets and has become a lot riskier still.
The recent trial of Aine Marie McGrath, 25, charged with Dangerous Driving Occasioning Death, in the Perth District Court, is a prime illustration of this danger.
En-route to a local pub for a quick drink after work, Ms McGrath and her friend Sarah Kelly, the passenger, collided with a utility vehicle, near Leederville, northbound on the Mitchell Freeway in August 2016. Tragically, Ms Kelly died at the scene.
The exact cause of the accident was the focus of the trial. One aspect, borne out at trial, upon forensic examination of her mobile telephone, was that Ms McGrath, upon leaving work, was text messaging her boyfriend about meeting up for a drink.
In evidence at trial, Ms McGrath claimed the accident was caused by a car in front of her effectively cutting her off whilst travelling at 100 km/ph on the freeway, Ms McGrath’s initial reaction was to swerve to the right, when she saw she was close to hitting the right-hand side barrier, she swerved left, across all four lanes of traffic, until she was halted by a collision with the utility vehicle in the far left lane: ramming the front passenger side of the car, where Ms Kelly was seated.
At trial Ms McGrath admitted that there was nothing entirely significant, or important about her SMS conversation. Why she continued with the texting is perhaps a question that haunts her to this day. She accepted that during this journey there were several occasions when her attention was diverted from driving and she instead focussed on her phone. Yet still she continued texting.
There is ample evidence that texting, checking your GPS, changing the radio are all distracting influences upon the primary task of driving. Yet such behaviour prevails.
Most of us, I suspect, if truthful, will admit that we have from time to time answered that call, or sent that message, perhaps when late for a meeting or when looking for directions. We emerge unscathed and if we avoid incident are grateful for not receiving a fine and loss of points on our license.
The truth is, we are all at risk of tragedy, every single time we handle our phones while driving. We are just lucky that we do not get caught or die or kill another as a result.
When we hear the stories in the news, we pause to assess the damage, sympathise with the parties and then move on, we must as it is our nature to do so. But the danger and the odds mean that any one of us could be the next Aine Marie McGrath.
Ms McGrath’s trial was aborted after a jury was unable to deliver a verdict. It is likely that she will be re-tried in the coming months. For Ms McGrath, the trauma will be relived. As for Ms Kelly’s family, one can only imagine how they are ever to cope with their loss.
Apple and all other major smartphone manufacturers have pre-installed settings in each phone that might be easily activated to prevent calls and texts being sent or received whilst the phone is in motion.