Mass. Teen Gets Year in Jail for Fatal Texting Crash

Aaron Deveau of Haverhill, MA PHOTO CREDIT FoxNewsBoston.com
A judge in Massachusetts ordered a teen driver to one year in a county correctional center for texting while driving that led to a fatal crash.

Urging drivers to "keep their eyes on the road," District Court Judge Stephen Abany on Wednesday sentenced Aaron Deveau, 18, on charges of motor vehicle homicide and negligent operation of a motor vehicle causing serious injury while texting, according to Boston.com.

His sentence was reduced because Deveau was 17 at the time of the crash on Feb. 20, 2011 and had no prior record. The judge also suspended Deveau's driver's license for 15 years.

Daniel Bowley Jr., 55, died in the crash after Deveau's car crossed the center line on River Street in Haverhill, Mass., and smashed into Bowley's vehicle head-on. Prosecutors said Deveau was texting two minutes before the crash, a behavior that they said qualified as negligence, although Deveau insisted in testimony that he was not texting at the time of the crash and could not remember texting while driving.

Abany said criminal sentences are based on punishment, public safety, rehabilitation and deterrence, and that deterrence "really seems to come to play in this case."

Massachusetts passed a state law in 2010 making it a crime to injure someone during a car crash due to texting while behind the wheel. Other states took similar legislative action during that year, especially focusing on teenagers and texting while driving.

Federal officials have urged states and drivers to find ways to reduce all kinds of distracted driving, and not just texting.

A U.S. Department of Transportation Web site said 3,092 people were killed and 416,000 were injured in crashes in 2010 involving a distracted driver. Such distractions include texting, but also talking on a cell phone, eating and using a navigation system.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has created a Web site called " Decide to Drive" that allows users to submit stories of distracted drivers they've seen in hopes of ending the practice.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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