At 8:33 A.M. on Thursday, April 24, North Carolina resident Courtney Ann Sanford was making her way to work. The sun was shining, one of her favorite songs was playing on the radio, and the weekend was almost here. One minute later she was dead.
“The Happy song makes me HAPPY,” the last status update on Courtney’s Facebook, was posted just one minute before dispatchers received the first reports of the crash that claimed her life. Investigators would later discover that Courtney also posted several selfies during her drive.
A North Carolina police lieutenant called the crash a sad waste, as well as a sobering reminder of the dangers of distracted driving. “In a matter of seconds a life was over just so she could notify some friends she was happy,” Lt. Weisner reported. “As sad as it is it is a grim reminder to everyone…you just have to pay attention while you are in the car.”
With the advent of smart phones and social media, distracted driving has become an increasingly serious problem. In 2012 alone 3,328 people were killed on America’s roadways by distracted drivers. Recent surveys show that 71% of teens admit to sending text messages while driving and 78% of teens admit to reading them.
The simple truth is that many young people don’t appreciate how dangerous texting and driving can be. Research has shown that texting or posting while driving leads to the same increase in the amount of crashes as driving while drunk. The average text message removes the driver’s eyes from the road for five seconds, enough time for the car to travel the length of a football field.
Texting while driving is not just a problem for young drivers. Data gathered by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration indicates that only one quarter of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes are under the age of thirty. Even decades of driving experience cannot make distracted driving safe.
Courtney’s death is a tragedy that is only enhanced by how preventable her accident was. However important a text, post, or update may seem, it is nothing weighed against your safety and the safety of the drivers around you. It can wait.
About the Author: Courtney Van Winkle is a partner and personal injury lawyer in Richmond with the law firm of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen. In a career spanning over 20 years, Courtney has handled personal injury cases including catastrophic injury, brain injury, distracted driving accidents and wrongful death across the state of Virginia.
 For facts and statistics explaining the dangers of texting while driving, and to join thousands of others by taking a pledge against this dangerous practice, visit the “It Can Wait” website available at: http://www.itcanwait.com/