June 10, 2016—Distracted driving is a real epidemic, but while many contend that the only solution is to make distracted driving laws more stringent, they often forget to look at the only group of citizens who are allowed to be distracted while behind the wheel no matter what.
In California, a crash involving a California Highway Patrol officer and a series of other vehicles resulted in the tragic death of a 15-year-old boy, and yet few in my state are discussing the risks associated with allowing law enforcement officials to drive while distracted.
Here’s what reported on the accident for my blog:
“The deadly crash involving a teenager and a police officer took place in Northern California this past Tuesday. According to a series of reports, the officer involved in the crash was looking at his in-car computer moments before the deadly collision. Due to the distraction, the officer allowed his vehicle to crash into a stopped Hyundai Elantra. The vehicle was in a construction zone on the Interstate 5. According to the authorities, the California Highway Patrol officer was behind the wheel of a mobile road enforcement truck when the accident happened.
Authorities reported that the vehicle was stopped because the traffic had slowed down considerably, but since the officer was looking at his computer, he didn’t notice the slow flow of vehicles. Once he looked up and applied the brakes to avoid a collision, it was too late. He ended up rear-ending a vehicle right in front of him. A chain reaction quickly took place, and several stopped vehicles were impacted. The 15-year-old who died in the crash wasn’t the only teenager who was impacted. According to the official reports, two other teens were rushed to the hospital with undisclosed injuries.”
The 49-year-old officer involved in this crash is now under investigation, but while the CHP claims distraction is one possible cause, CHP Sgt. Tony Odell says that the officer in question had his attention “diverted away from the road, looking down at, I believe, his computer.”
Whether officers are allowed to use electronics while behind the wheel or not is not what is truly concerning about this case, but the fact that any other driver under the same circumstances would have to abide by state laws.
Will lawmakers push the same restrictions on officers after this accident? Sound off below!