Deadly Santa Rosa crash highlights dangers of distracted driving

Two women were killed after collision caused by driver checking his cellphone

The deaths of two women in a car accident in Santa Rosa caused by a man checking his cellphone is a reminder of just how dangerous distracted driving can be on Northern California's roads and highways. According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the man in this case was recently sentenced to a year in prison for his role in the crash, although he may be eligible for release before the end of this year.

Two women killed

The accident occurred March 15 on Highway 12 in Santa Rosa. A Toyota Camry with four occupants was stopped in traffic. The four occupants, the driver, his wife, and his parents, were on their way to celebrate the wife's birthday at a nearby restaurant when their car was struck from behind by a pickup.

The two women, one a music teacher and the other a grandmother, were sitting in the backseat and were killed instantly, while the two men suffered serious injuries. Police say the pickup was going at about 50 mph when it struck the Camry.

Distracted driving to blame

The crash was caused by the driver of the pickup truck checking his cellphone. He said that he was expecting a text message and looked down at his phone for three to five seconds. When he looked up again, he saw the stopped vehicles in front of him but did not have enough time to stop. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the driver had received two citations in 2011, including one for using a cellphone while driving.

He recently pleaded no contest to two counts of felony vehicular manslaughter as a way of avoiding a trial. The felony charges, however, will be reduced to misdemeanors so long as he successfully serves 18 months of probation. He was sentenced to a year in prison, but due to state sentencing laws, he will be eligible for release before the end of 2014 and he has also been ordered to pay $1 million in restitution to the family of the two women killed. While the family of the victims did not object to the sentence, they did express disappointment that they would not have an opportunity to testify in court.

Car accidents

As this unfortunate case shows, distracted driving is a constant menace on Northern California's roads and highways. Many people mistakenly believe they can multi-task while driving, but a driver who takes his eyes of the road for even just a few seconds can easily cause a serious accident.

Those who have been injured by a distracted or otherwise negligent driver should understand that they have options when moving forward. Although no amount of compensation can possibly make up for the pain caused by a negligent driver, legal action may be able to ease the financial burden caused by a crash and help discourage such reckless behavior from being repeated in the future.