MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some consider it worse than drinking and driving, yet many people text while they are behind the wheel every day.
On Monday, 21-year-old Amanda Manzanares was convicted of criminal vehicular operation for causing an accident that nearly killed a Hopkins man last year.
The criminal complaint shows she was texting and talking on her cell phone minutes before the crash — a crash that Barry Lawrence is still recovering from.
There was a time not long ago when Lawrence wondered if he’d ever pick up his guitar again.
“I was worried I might not live,” said Lawrence, who survived a texting and driving accident.
Since October of 2010, he’s been nursing injuries that kept him from his music and his work of building replicas of the Vietnam Memorial.
“Six broken ribs, collapsed lung and my heart stopped for a bit,” he said.
The accident was caused by a distracted driver believed to be texting and driving. Lawrence was riding his motorcycle on Excelsior Boulevard in Minnetonka. As he was on his way to get coffee, he noticed a car coming into his lane.
“I start yelling. I see her head below the steering wheel. If I could have, I would have gone on the grass, but it’s like a heat-seeking missile,” Lawrence said.
Distracted driving is becoming a more prevalent problem on roadways.
“That’s a threat to me and my family, me and your family,” Lawrence said.
According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, distracted driving is the cause of one in every four crashes in Minnesota each year.
“We allowed people to develop addictions and habits. Now, we got to try to break habits and it’s hard to do,” said Jon Cummings, of Minnesotans for Safe Driving.
Yet, drivers still pick up their cell phones every day. Lawrence’s hope is his story makes everyone think about putting down the phone.
“It’s worse than drunks I think. At least drunks are trying to stay on the road, but people texting aren’t even looking at the road,” he said.
Under the law, texting and driving amounts to careless driving which is a misdemeanor. But, there are some county attorneys who are beginning to bring more serious charges.