Lorry driver gets 5 years for causing death crash while using mobile phone

BBC article here.

Warning: the video in the article is SFW but shows the actual crash.

The driver has been sentenced to 5 years in prison. I think that’s far too low for such grossly irresponsible behaviour. Note that his use of the mobile is prolonged. It’s not a case of a glance at the wrong moment.

Despite it being illegal where I live, I see idiots like this all the time. One reason I rarely ride my motorcycles on the roads anymore. Was run down once, years ago, and that’s enough. Its gotten nothing but worse.

Yeah, 5 years seems light.

The wiki page lists the sentencing guidelines for this - his sentence falls within the “higher culpability” bracket. The next, and highest, level - “most serious culpability” - generally means someone deliberately driving dangerously (showing off to friends, perhaps).

There are plans to introduce life sentences for killer drivers and, frankly, this kind of extended disregard for the road in front of the driver, causing a death, deserves that kind of penalty.

I drive for a living - I do about 700 miles a week on roads much like that one. There’s absolutely nothing you can do if you come to a stop and the guy behind you isn’t paying attention.

Yup. I’ve been there. Only in my case it was a van and I - obviously - survived.

I support harsh sentences for killer drivers. My dad, on his motorcycle was sandwiched between two vehicles because the truck driver behind hime took his eyes off the road to put a CD in the player. He wasn’t even tried for manslaughter. As far as I know he just got a ticket.

He KILLED my father, and is able to drive around alive. He should have gone to prison and released when my dad(HA!) was also able to walk around.

The really pressing reason why we need autonomously piloted vehicles is because many people drive like they already have one.


In these situations, a bad outcome requires both the negligence of looking at your phone and bad luck. A huge number of people are negligent every day in just the same way as this driver, but they get lucky and nobody is hurt. It seems unjust to me that he gets 5 years, while they get nothing (or at worst a small fine if a cop sees them looking at their phone). For the purpose of providing an appropriate incentive, wouldn’t a much heavier punishment for anyone using their phone while driving be more effective than long imprisonment for those who are unlucky enough to hurt someone?

You could make the same argument for driving while intoxicated or essentially any other negligent behavior; we tend to apply penalties based on the resultant harm rather than the potential. I’m not sure there is any practical way to apply this; people are generally only cited for cell phone usage if they are stopped for some other reason, and traffic police are understandably reluctant to just pull over anyone who might be using their phone, especially since some applications, like using a phone for navigation, look just like texting or watching a video.


Well, yes - and it seems wrong to me that we do this. It would be fairer and more rational to punish everyone who negligently endangers other people to the same extent, not just the few who are unlucky enough to cause actual harm.

Sure, it’s difficult to implement perfectly, but it seems that we make little effort to even accept the principle and try. With texting while driving - a long license suspension on the second offense perhaps?

In general, punitive action is not generally effective in making global changes to behaviors or attitudes; doing so requires more fundamental social changes such as how drunk driving came to be viewed (in the United States) as dangerously irresponsible rather than just a casual irreverence not because penalties were increased (they were, but in many states you can still have multiple offenses without having your license revoked or spending any time in jail) but because groups like MADD and SADD made it socially unacceptable for responsible people to engage in.


Oohh! Cutting, that, cutting.

The video is really difficult to watch but I would have to agree with others that say the only difference between him and a ton of other drivers is bad luck. I live in the UK and drive around 600 miles a week, mostly on motorways and dual carriageways and the number of people clearly not paying attention to the road in front of them makes me angry.

I’ve been involved in two accidents in the last year alone due to drivers not paying attention - both in situations similar to the video in the OP where the traffic stops suddenly and the person behind wasn’t paying attention and went in to the back of me. Thankfully both were relatively low speed collisions and nobody was hurt.

Drink driving does seem to have become socially unacceptable now but mobile phone use appears to be lagging behind significantly. While I wont shed any tears for people being punished after being caught I’d rather they not do it in the first place. I’m sure most people know someone who uses their phone while driving and has gotten away with it for years with no problem or punishment. I agree that we need to push the social unacceptability angle to prevent it happening in the first place.

Feel free to do that at the same time as toughening penalties though. I am fed up of sharing the road with dangerous people.

That wasn’t bad luck. That was pushing it waaay too far without glancing up at the road. If I’m on an empty stretch of I-20 hauling my trailer and want to make a quick change on my phone/pad for music or audio book or mapping, I can do so safely with a series of quick glances down at the device. If I’m in traffic, it has to wait until a stoplight. This moron spent what appears to be a full 20-30 seconds “head-down” fiddling with the phone.

When I taught my kids to drive, I accepted the inevitable that they would fiddle with their iBaubles at least some while driving. I taught them (and had them practice) half-second glances followed by an immediate return to eyeing the road. I also picked objects in the distance and timed the approach to demonstrate the amount of roadway covered even in the half-second period. I explained that dealing with the iBauble was acceptable in extremely short bursts, when they could be relatively certain there was no possibility of obstacles, either from sideroads or traffic ahead. This can be done with relative safety, but not like the moron in the video. He must have covered an entire mile while messing with his device.

I am in favor of extreme punishments for this sort of behavior, and also in favor of laws which saddle business/corporations with substantial liability should they contact their employees via cellphone while driving (even while commuting in their personal vehicle).

If it matters, my kids now have 22 years of safe driving under their belts. Zero at fault accidents and 1 ticket is all. (Each has been hit once by shittier drivers, each ruled not at fault)

This was far more than just a look.

Over here in the UK it’s an automatic fine and points on your license for using a mobile device. This was a prolonged interaction with concentration wholly on the device rather than the road.

And they will pull you over if they see you with your phone as well, although it seems to vary a little by force. The Devon and Cornwall police pull people over for it all the time.

I disagree - we’re not talking about someone looking away from the road for a couple of seconds. According to the time stamp it was between 19 and 20 seconds. That’s much longer than most people would look at their phone instead of the road.