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Teen's cellphone distraction killed jogger, police say

Many 16-year-olds are looking forward to a school-free summer, family vacations and hanging out with friends. However, none of those carefree, seasonal activities are available to a teenager recently charged with negligent homicide after a fatal car accident in a nearby state. Police say the young female driver killed a man because she was distracted by a cellphone.

The teenager was traveling in a sport utility vehicle along the same heavily traveled road as a 44-year-old man jogging in preparation for a marathon. Investigators say evidence proves the teen was using a cellphone keypad just before the jogger was hit.

The teenager was traveling in a sport-utility vehicle along the same heavily traveled road as a 44-year-old man jogging in preparation for a marathon. Investigators say evidence proves the teen was using a cellphone keypad just before the jogger was hit.

Almost 5,500 people died in car accidents caused by distracted driving in 2009, according to federal data. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported drivers whose attention wandered from the highway were also responsible for 448,000 injury victims.

Thirty-one states ban the use of cellphones for new drivers, including the one where the pedestrian fatality took place. Thirty-eight states have made texting while driving a primary or secondary offense for drivers of every age. Legislation in a 39th state is approved and awaiting the governor's expected signature.

The accident victim's elderly father was outraged when he told the media that his son died from the teenager's "stupidity." The grieving parent wants the girl to face a punishment that forces her to remember the alleged negligence and share his son's story to prevent future cellphone-related tragedies.

The young driver could be imprisoned for as long as six months if she is found guilty of negligent homicide. A first conviction for underage use of a cellphone while driving comes with a 30-day driver's license suspension and a $175 fee to restore driving privileges.

Authorities said the fatality demonstrated how easily and quickly distractions from electronic devices can affect driving ability.

Source: ABC News, "Conn. Accident Shows Dangers of Distracted Driving," Dave Collins, May 16, 2012

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