George and Kathy Weed were killed one year ago when a truck driver who police say was texting while driving slammed his tractor-trailer into the back of the upstate New York couple’s car on a Pennsylvania highway.
“Dad was in his lane and coming to a stop ,” said their son, Brian Weed. “The truck just came up and hit him from behind and pushed him into another truck.”
“This utterly destroyed us,” said their daughter, Tricia Weed. “I mean, devastating beyond words.”
In another example, in Arizona, a truck driver has pleaded not guilty to murder charges after a police officer was killed when the driver crashed into police cars and emergency vehicles. The driver was allegedly looking at pictures on his phone at the time of the crash.
An investigation by ABC station WABC in New York City showed that the two crashes may not be isolated incidents. Cameras set up by WABC on major New York highways caught truck drivers dialing, texting and talking on their cell phones.
In one of the worst cases observed by WABC cameras, a truck driver carried on two conversations on two separate phones.
A truck driver stopped by police for talking on a cell phone in New York would receive a $150 fine and five points on a driver’s license. Accumulating 11 points over an 18-month period may result in a suspended license in New York, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
WABC investigative reporter Jim Hoffer asked National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member Robert Sumwalt if the consequences for texting while driving are strict enough for truck drivers.
“Well, is it really changing behavior?” Sumwalt asked in response.
“From your video, that indicates a lot of people driving commercial vehicles that are still using personal electronic devices,” he said. “And that would indicate the enforcement side of it is not strong enough.”
According to the Department of Transportation, nearly 16,000 truckers were ticketed for using their cell phones last year, but only four of those were suspended and taken out of service, WABC reported.