Kern county study finds nearly half of traffic fatalities between 2009-2012 texting related

Local study: texting while driving can be fatal

Bakersfield, Calif. - In the first study of its kind in Kern county, Kern Medical Center and the coroners office evaluated nearly 700 traffic related deaths over the last four years.

The study found 45 percent of those deaths involved texting while speeding.  

"The common injuries were traumatic brain injuries. About a third of the injuries were also involved spinal chord injuries. Severing of the spinal chord," said KMC Chief of trauma Dr. Ruby Skinner.

"These were patients with such severe injuries they died before getting to the hospital," said KMC department of surgery chairman Dr. Maureen Martin.

It's another reminder that texting can be one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving.

"It's like driving with a blindfold on. Because you don't know what happened. In four seconds you can pass the distance of a football field," said California Highway Patrol officer Robert Rodriguez.

Not only are you at a higher rate of crashing, according to this study, "if you have an accident and you are texting and driving its highly likely you're going to die as a result," said Martin.

And if you do not die, someone else could.

"If their actions of being distracted by texting and driving leads to an accident and someone dies they could be facing vehicular homicide charges," said Kern county chief deputy district attorney Mark Pafford.

That was the case for Anna Marie Reynosa in Bakersfield earlier this year.

She was allegedly texting while driving when she crashed into Charla Wilkins and killed her.

She now faces vehicular manslaughter charges.

Drivers caught text and driving can face heavy fines and court fees.

"It doesn't compare to if you were involved in a crash and kill someone or yourself. It's just not worth it," said Rodriguez.

 

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