News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

October 31, 2013

Another deadly form of driving

West Vigo students hear about dangers of being distracted on the road

WEST TERRE HAUTE — West Vigo High School juniors heard sobering stories Thursday about young people killed as the result of texting while driving or other forms of distracted driving.

In one case, an 18-year-old southeastern Indiana girl was killed in December 2011, after she lost control of a minivan. She had an unfinished text message on her phone when she crashed, police said.

The West Vigo students heard another story about a 21-year-old woman who in 2009 was hit and killed while walking across a street; her death was caused by a distracted driver.

The victim’s father, a Philadelphia trial lawyer, developed the End Distracted Driving program, which is being presented by more than 850 attorneys to high school students across the country.

At West Vigo, Terre Haute attorney Steve Williams spoke about the dangers of distracted driving, including texting. “Is it going to take a tragic incident like this for you to modify your behavior?” he asked them.

Distracted driving is not just texting, he said. It involves other behaviors that could divert a person’s attention away from driving.

It can be eating and drinking while driving; talking on a cell phone; putting on makeup; changing a CD; or using a navigation system while driving.

It’s not just a teen problem, Williams said. Adults are just as guilty of texting while driving.

Williams, a trial attorney who often represents victims of accidents, admitted he’s been a distracted driver. He’s eaten while driving, used a cell phone and programmed his navigation system while driving.

As a trial lawyer who handles these types of cases, “I should have known better,” he said. He’s stopped his distracted driving behaviors and urged students to do the same.

He said his law firm handles cases every day in which “we see people that are seriously injured or killed because of distracted driving.”

He described a case in a neighboring county in which a sheriff’s deputy became a paraplegic after being hit by someone who was eating and drinking a soda while driving; the driver spilled a drink and then reached for it, which led to the accident.

Williams provided some eye-opening statistics. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent at 55 miles per hour of driving the length of an entire football field, blind.

When someone uses a cell phone while driving, that person is just as likely to get in an accident as someone who is legally drunk, with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent, he said.

Statistics also show that someone who texts while driving is two times more likely to be in an accident than someone driving while legally drunk, he said. “I think that’s an amazing statistic.”

Williams’ investigator, Frank Turchi, a former Indiana State Police trooper and investigator, talked about the times he had to go to parents’ homes late at night and tell them their son or daughter had been killed in a car accident. Often, the grief-stricken parents would collapse in his arms, he said.

Turchi believes the prevalence of cell phones and texting while driving in recent years has increased the potential for fatal and personal injury accidents among young people.

Williams also pointed out there can be legal consequences — both prison time and civil damages — for those who harm others as the result of texting and driving. “It’s not just criminal penalties; you can lose all your assets and money,” he said.

Indiana and 38 other states have made it illegal to text while driving; in Indiana, for those under age 18, it is illegal for them to use a cellphone while driving, he said.

Williams told another story that hit close to home, about a Terre Haute attorney whose niece died in an accident that resulted from texting while driving. The attorney had to go to the morgue to identify his niece, and he then had to tell his sister that her only child had died. The attorney saw that his niece had been wearing a flannel shirt he had recently given her.

Thursday’s presentation had an impact on several West Vigo juniors; some have just started driving.

Amanda Bridgewater found the presentation “pretty depressing and sad.” While she doesn’t text while driving, she plans to stop using her cell phone while driving.

Garett Ray, who has been driving for more than a year, admits to distracted driving, including texting. He said he will stop those behaviors. “I don’t want to hurt any of my family members or myself,” he said.

He found it “astonishing” how many people have died because of texting while driving. He said he hadn’t thought about the consequences before Williams’ presentation.

Baylee Waters said she hasn’t started driving yet, but when she does, “I’m definitely not using my phone, that’s for sure, or anything else. I like to be focused, anyway.”

The program made her aware of the potential consequences of texting and driving. “It’s definitely a shock. It surprised me how much it can affect people while they are driving,” Waters said.

Delanee Lindsay, who has been driving for a few months, said she has texted, changed radio stations and used a navigation system while driving.

She will stop texting while driving and become a more careful driver, she said. Hearing the stories of lives lost “has already changed me,” she said.

She said the talk did have an impact. Until then, “I never thought twice” about texting and other distracted driving, she said.

Williams, who plans to speak at other Vigo County high schools, provided students with a list of steps that can be taken for safer driving, and he asked students to go through those steps with their parents.

If the safer driving list is returned, signed by both by students and parents, students will be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift certificate to Buffalo Wild Wings.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@trib


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
  • council mtg 013.JPG Mayor: City will not file bankruptcy

    The Terre Haute City Council took well more than  an hour to ask questions and discuss the health of the city’s finances with top city officials in a special meeting Thursday night. A few councilmen expressed grave concern about the financial picture, while Mayor Duke Bennett said things were improving.

    July 10, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • State official threatens prosecution of city leaders who talk about audit

    A state official has threatened to pursue the prosecution of city officials if they violate a confidentiality agreement signed last month.

    July 10, 2014

  • MET 071014 181 02EXPO.jpg ISU, 181st Intelligence Wing show off capabilities at expo

    Communication and getting unmanned eyes in the sky can be vital parts of responding to a natural or man-made disaster.

    July 10, 2014 3 Photos

  • Feds relent: Military to restore equipment program for fire departments

    An agreement has been reached to keep surplus military equipment rolling into rural fire department bays in Indiana and 47 other states.

    July 10, 2014

  • united way.jpg UW kicks off pilot campaign

    Dottie King remembers the day she saw a young man leaving St. Ann’s Dental Clinic after having 17 teeth pulled. He had not received sufficient dental care before that day so his need was dramatic. That was unlike King, who had visited the dentist regularly since childhood, but still found getting a tooth filled not on her list of fun things to do. “I thought to myself, ‘I never have thought about the blessing of dental care,’” King recalled, sharing that story on Thursday morning with other volunteers for the United Way of the Wabash Valley.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 071014 181 HILL.jpg Indiana’s director of homeland security sees unmanned systems’ potential

    Integrating unmanned flight systems into use for domestic surveillance can provide first responders with key information in responding to fires, earthquakes and man-made disasters, said John Hill, director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stunt performer scheduled to be at Wigwam

    A celebrity stunt man named Jim “Crash” Moreau is scheduled to perform at Terre Haute’s Wigwam Skate and Event Center on Saturday.

    July 10, 2014

  • Rain barrels offered for sale

    The Vigo County Soil and Water Conservation District is taking orders for 55-gallon rain barrels.

    July 10, 2014

  • Ash.jpg Tips lead to meth lab bust

    Two people were arrested after police busted a clandestine methamphetamine lab Thursday in the 2200 block of Fourth Avenue in Terre Haute.

    July 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • 071014 meth lab items.jpg Police bust meth lab in Terre Haute

    Police busted a clandestine methamphetamine lab today in the 2200 block of Fourth Avenue in Terre Haute.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • UPDATE: Ethics panel approves $5K fine against Bennett

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s State Ethics Commission has approved a $5,000 fine against former state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett for using state resources in his 2012 campaign.

    July 10, 2014

  • Vigo County Jail Log: July 10, 2014

    The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Wednesday and Thursday, based on jail records.

    July 10, 2014

  • Group: 5,000 same-sex marriages in Illinois

    A survey indicates thousands of same-sex couples are marrying in Illinois.

    July 10, 2014

  • Study: Hunting restores forests in state parks

    A study by a Purdue University research team has found that regulated deer hunts in Indiana state parks have helped restore forests damaged by too many white-tailed deer.

    July 10, 2014

  • MET070914 house exterior.jpg Historic Ohio Boulevard house inspired by 1948 Cary Grant movie

    Spurred in 1948 by a newly released movie staring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, coupled with a growing post-World War II housing market, General Electric partnered with Hollywood’s RKO Studios to build “dream homes” throughout the country.

    July 9, 2014 4 Photos 1 Story

  • Detour ahead

    A panel of public and private officials is calling for $10 billion in projects to upgrade Indiana’s aging roads and bridges, but its members concede there’s no money to pay for it all.

    July 9, 2014

  • MET070814 barrels.jpg MARK BENNETT: Making road work a barrel of fun for drivers

    We’re lucky orange barrels can’t talk.

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • City Council to take up city finances tonight

    The Terre Haute City Council will have a chance in a special meeting tonight to delve deeply into the city’s financial health. However, council members are being asked to avoid raising the most controversial subject of recent weeks: The city’s use of Redevelopment Commission tax increment finance (TIF) money.

    July 9, 2014

  • Bennett accepts $5,000 fine in ethics settlement

    Former Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett has agreed to pay $5,000 as part of a settlement with Indiana’s ethics watchdog in which he admits to using state resources for campaign work but is cleared of formal ethics violations in the grade-change scandal that cost him his job as Florida’s schools chief last year.

    July 9, 2014

  • Vermillion Jail trusties face new charges

    Two former inmate trusties at the Vermillion County Jail face new criminal charges after a recently discovered security breach at the jail.

    July 9, 2014

  • Lawrence police acquire armored military vehicle

    A central Indiana city has acquired an armored military vehicle for use in highly dangerous situations.

    July 9, 2014

  • Free carwash for law enforcement

    Mike’s Carwash locations in Central Indiana, including Terre Haute, will honor the sacrifice of IMPD Officer Perry Renn and thank all those who serve and protect our communities with a free carwash for police and emergency personnel today and Friday.

    July 9, 2014

  • Indiana agencies told to ignore gay marriages

    Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s office is telling state agencies act as if no gay marriages had been performed during three days following a federal court order.

    July 9, 2014

  • State reports West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes

    INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials confirmed the first signs of West Nile virus activity in Indiana for 2014. Mosquitoes in Marshall and Pike counties have tested positive for West Nile virus. There have been no reported cases of West Nile virus in humans in the state this year.

    July 9, 2014

  • Indiana education board faces contentious meeting

    Indiana’s State Board of Education is gearing up for another showdown between Democratic schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Republican Gov. Mike Pence’s appointees and staff.
    The board is set to consider a pair of resolutions dealing with control of the board during a meeting Wednesday.

    July 9, 2014

  • Vigo County Jail Log: July 9, 2014

    The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Tuesday and Wednesday, based on jail records.

    July 9, 2014

  • Indiana getting $849,000 for outdoor projects

    Indiana is receiving $849,000 to use toward outdoor recreation and conservation projects.

    July 9, 2014

  • Semi fire halts I-70 traffic in Putnam County

    A fire in a semi tractor-trailer temporarily closed eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 in Putnam County on Tuesday evening.

    July 9, 2014

  • I&M proposes five solar facilities in two states

    Indiana Michigan Power plans to seek permission to build five solar generating facilities in the two states it serves.

    July 9, 2014

  • MET070814 voice four.jpg Hitting a high note

    A 17-year-old from Casey, Ill., won “The Voice of the Valley” Tuesday night, singing and shaking his hips and legs to an Elvis Presley song, then wooing the grandstand audience at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds with a country tune.

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

Latest News Poll
AP Video
Police: Prostitute Linked to 2nd Death Chimp-attack Victim Lobbies Congress Obama Responds to Hecklers on Immigration FIFA Rejects Suarez Appeal Against Biting Ban Israeli-Palestinian Tensions, Attacks Escalate Kim Kardashian Hits Up Valentino Show in Paris World Cup Final Pits Argentina Against Germany Police: Prostitute Accused in Overdose Death Art of Haitian Machete Fighting Revived Four Kids, Two Adults Shot Dead Near Houston Raw: Obama Shoots Pool in Denver Neighbors Mourn Killing of Texas Family Thousands Attend NYC Firefighter's Funeral World's Tallest Water Slide: See It for Yourself Obama Talks Economy, Slams Republicans Connecticut Boy Dies Inside Parked Car 'Game of Thrones' Leads Emmy Nominees Robots Gearing Up for Their Own 'World Cup' Fans Dying to Be Near Jazz Greats UN Secretary-General Urges Mideast Ceasefire
NDN Video
Tiny Hamsters Who Ate Burritos are Back for a Tiny Hedgehog's Party Watch Kelly Ripa Get Soaked! 'Referee' Hands Out Yellow Cards for Social Faux Pas in NYC 2014 Emmy Nominees: 8 Snub Shockers Emma Watson Is Va-Va-Voom in Valentino 7 Infamous Sports Blowouts Argentina tops Holland in World Cup semifinals News flush: Japanese toilet exhibition making a splash Emmy Nominations: What to Watch For 'Game of Thrones' Leads 66th Emmy Awards Nominations Photographic 'Proof' That LeBron Is Leaving Miami - @TheBuzzeronFOX Elephant Pool Party at The Oregon Zoo Must-See! Berry and Fallon Form Human Hamster Wheel Pilot buys pizzas for travelers delayed by storm Klose nets record, Germany rout Brazil 7-1 'Purrmanently Sad Cat' Looks Adorably Sad All the Time Pharrell 'humbled' by success of mega-hit 'Happy' Day After: Brazil Reeling in WC Loss Jennifer Lawrence Facepalms Emma Watson Athletes Bare All for ESPN Magazine's Body Issue

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010