AP photo
A Massachusetts teenager on Wednesday became the first person in that state to be convicted of causing a fatal traffic accident while texting, and a judge sentenced him to one year in jail.

Aaron Deveau of Haverhill, Mass. was sentenced to 2 1/2 years behind bars with a year to serve and the remainder suspended for the February 2011 crash that took the life of Donald Bowley Jr., 55, of Danville, N.H., and seriously injured Bowley's girlfriend.

Prosecutors say the then 17-year-old high school student sent 193 text messages the day of the crash, including some just a minute or so before impact and dozens more after it.

Deveau testified Tuesday, saying he was not sending or receiving text messages in the moments before the collision. He said he put his phone on the passenger seat and was distracted and thinking about his homework when the crash occurred. He told police after the crash that he swerved to avoid another vehicle in front of him that suddenly hit its brakes.

Prosecutors knew that the teen had been texting even though the accused had tried to delete some texts from his phone after the accident. An analysis of Deveau's phone records, obtained during the investigation, revealed his texting pattern and the court did not believe texting did not contribute to the fatal accident.

As a majority of states have adopted anti-texting laws, police and prosecutors have had little problem obtaining court orders for phone records that show a defendant's texting behavior during the time of a vehicular accident.

But police do say that enforcing anti-texting laws in the absence of an accident is very difficult.
"In theory it's [the anti-texting while driving law] a great law. It's just tough to enforce," Lt. Kevin Walsh of Wareham, Mass. told SouthCoastToday.com. "It's tough when you're driving around to actually see them texting," Dartmouth, Mass. Detective Robert Levinson also told the website.

In order for police in any state to hand out a ticket or pull a driver over, an officer has to actually see a driver doing it.

The Department of Transportation is considering new regulations that would severely restrict the ability to use cell-phones and smart-phones in cars while they are moving, including mandating equipment that would jam phone calls and texts from coming and going if a car is moving faster than 10 miles per hour.

Meantime, auto companies are introducing gadgetry to their newest vehicles that allow a driver to have texts and even Facebook updates read aloud while a driver is operating a vehicle, and for the driver to be able to respond hands-free through audio-to-text software. Regulators, however, are not keen on that level of distractions in the car even if it is hands-free.

Share This Photo X