A 68-page report released by the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) shows the results of an investigation into a February 2013 fatal crash, and says that the FHP officer involved was distracted by his laptop (Mobile Data Terminal) at the time.
The trooper had been driving an unmarked FHP vehicle on his way to an off-duty security detail when the accident occurred. He was reportedly driving at between 79 to 88 miles per hour when he crashed into the other vehicle, causing it to overturn several times. The occupants of the other vehicle suffered serious injuries to two adult passengers and the death of an unborn child.
The investigation showed that the officer started using his computer at 9:09 p.m., and accessed the FHP computer network via his laptop – opening various programs and accessing msn.com as well as emails. The crash was called in at 9:15 p.m.
The report states:
It is believed that Trooper Reyes was distracted by the laptop computer in his patrol car at the time of the crash also:
Phone records revealed that Trooper Reyes was not on his cellular phone at the time of the crash
The family involved are looking into legal action against FHP.
This is another reminder of the tragic personal cost associated with such accidents, and a warning to all employers about the potential punitive and financial cost of allowing their workers to drive distracted.
At Blank-it, we know that driver distraction should be a primary area of concern for all drivers and employers, one that has to be addressed through policy, education and the use of technology-based solutions.