Distracted driving is a menace. There is no other way to say it. Studies have shown that a driver who is distracted from the road by their cell phone, texting, surfing the internet, etc., are as dangerous to others on the roadway as a drunk driver. This negligent behavior by drivers creates a hazard to everyone, but the risks associated with that conduct is magnified when the offending driver is piloting a tractor trailer or other commercial vehicle.

In an effort to increase safety through awareness, I and my colleges have written extensively on this subject in the past. Please click here to read our previous posts about distracted driving. However, the problem continues to persist, and recent headlines provide another chilling example of the magnitude of the hazard presented by a distracted commercial driver.

On May 6, 2013, Juan Espinoza, a commercial trucker, slammed into the rear of several parked police and fire vehicles which had responded to an earlier roadside accident. Although the weather was clear, the roadway was straight and level, and the accident site was in the desert with no sources of distraction, Espinoza never slowed his vehicle or attempted to change lanes before slamming into the back of the parked cars at 65 mph. How did this happen? Why did Espinoza fail to see and avoid the parked police and fire vehicles? He was on Facebook, using his cell phone to view pictures of “scantily clad women.” Espinoza reportedly told police he was distracted by a passing vehicle, but his dash cam video shows this claim was not true, and review of his cell phone records reportedly confirmed that he was on Facebook at the time of the crash.

An Arizona police officer was killed in the tragic accident. Espinoza is now facing multiple criminal charges, including murder in connection with the crash. A portion of the dash cam video of this dramatic crash can be seen on the ABC website here.