The day after a Newport Coast woman pleaded guilty to killing a cyclist while intoxicated and texting while driving, the Newport Beach Police Department issued a statement to remind motorists not to text and drive.
Danae Marie Miller was sentenced Tuesday to four years in state prison after pleading guilty to one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated. She pleaded guilty to killing Amine Britel, a former Olympics athlete, as he cycled along San Joaquin Hills Road on Feb. 21, 2011; read our earlier story here.
“Driver distraction is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents,” said Kathy Lowe, a police spokeswoman, in an email. “Often times, as was the case in the tragic accident involving Amine Britel, a momentary distraction can lead to fatal consequences.”
California law states that it is illegal for drivers to use a hand held device while operating a motor vehicle, that drivers under 18 may not use a cell phone while driving and that is illegal to text while operating a motor vehicle, Lowe said in an email.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, text messaging creates a crash risk that is 23 times worse than driving while not distracted, and that sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, according to police. Drivers who use hand held devices are four times more likely to be involved in crashes were serious injuries occur, a police statement said.
The Newport Beach Police Department plans to participate in a statewide Distracted Driver’s Awareness Month campaign in April. Read about last year’s campaign here.