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Grand Rapids Teenager Tragically Dies In Car Accident While Texting and Driving

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Georgetown Township, MI—tragically, a Grand-Rapids teenager died after striking a pickup truck on January 12. After conducting interviews with witnesses and conducting an investigation, police now suspect that 18-year-old Eric Helm was texting with his girlfriend before losing control of his vehicle, which swerved into the on-coming traffic lane and hit a pickup truck. The 46-year-old driver of the pickup suffered minor injuries.

Currently, a proposal to ban texting while driving is in the state legislature. According to the National Council of State Legislatures, over half of all states have already banned texting while driving. Furthermore, other state initiatives have attempted to demonstrate to teenagers the dangers of texting while driving. For example, in October of last year, the Michigan State Police offered local college students the opportunity to test their abilities to text and drive on a demonstration precision track. The police supervisor, Sergeant James Flegel, instructed the students to text while attempting to maneuver around orange cones, which were representative of the cars and pedestrians they would normally encounter while driving. Many students admitted to knocking over nearly every cone on the precision course while texting and driving. Additionally, the federal government deemed the week of October 18-24 of last year “National Teen Driver Safety Week” in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of texting while driving.

National Teen Safe Driver Week was inspired by a recent Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study. In the study, the researchers used cameras to monitor the drivers of semitrailer trucks and their texting habits. Overall, the results showed that the risk of crash is 23 times greater when texting while driving.