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Distracted driving a problem not only on roads, but in skies as well

On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board released the findings of an investigation of a 2011 accident involving a medical helicopter. That crash, which occurred near Mosby, Missouri, resulted in the death of a patient being taken from one hospital to another, a flight nurse, a flight paramedic, and the pilot.

According to the investigation, the 34-year-old pilot had sent 25 text messages and received 60 more during the course of his 12-hour shift, including 20 messages exchanged during the hour and 41 minutes prior to the crash. Most of the messaging was with an off-duty female co-worker with whom he was planning to have dinner that night.

The pilot was told at the beginning of his duty that the helicopter was low on fuel, but he missed several opportunities to refuel later in the day. Various protocols were violated throughout the course of the shift. As for the crash itself, the NTSB's conclusion was that the pilot was both fatigued and distracted, having slept only five hours the night before, and the accident occurred at the end of his 12-hour shift.

The investigation pointed out the fact that text messages, particularly when accompanied by an audible alter, interrupt a person's thoughts and can take their mind off the task at hand. IF the subject of the message is engaging, the distraction is that much greater.

Distracted driving is a big problem states had attempted to address, and are continuing to address. The harm that can come from use of cell phones while driving is great. Those who are injured because of distracted driving have every right to seek compensation.

Source: Huffington Post, "Digging Deeper Into Student Loan Debt," Mike English, April 9, 2013

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