In a previous post, we discussed the bus accident that claimed the lives of 13 elderly church members on a rural Texas road as they returned home from a retreat. Their bus collided head-on with a pickup truck that apparently crossed the center line of the road along a curve in the road.
Information has now come to light that indicates the driver of the truck, one of the only two survivors of the crash, may have been texting while driving.
“Distracted driving,” which includes texting while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle, has become a serious issue nationwide. This particular collision was among the deadliest Texas has seen in a long while — and previous accidents that have caused a similar loss of life were generally related to issues other than distracted driving.
While the police are investigating, they have yet to confirm if that was the cause of the deadly crash. It is known that several callers contacted police prior to the accident to report that the truck driver was driving erratically, going off the road and into oncoming traffic. Unfortunately, police weren’t able to locate him in time to stop the accident.
Texting while driving is actually not illegal throughout the state of Texas — which is highly unusual. In response to the nationwide problem of distracted driving due to the smartphones that seem to always be at hand these days, 46 states have a ban on using apps, email, the internet and texting. Many also require “hands-free” use of cellphones even to make a phone call.
In Texas, many local municipalities have taken the initiative to ban smartphone use in one form or another on their own — however, this accident took place in a rural area that probably isn’t within any city’s limits — so the truck driver’s texts weren’t illegal.
That doesn’t mean, however, that they weren’t foolish and negligent. Even if the truck driver manages to escape criminal charges for his actions, he’s likely to face wrongful death lawsuits from close surviving relatives of the victims on the bus or their estates.
Source: abcNews, “Witness: Driver of truck in Texas crash that killed 13 said he was texting,” Claudia Lauer and Jim Vertuno, March 30, 2017