Police: Driver using GPS behind fatal Mendon pedestrian accident

Distracted driving has been a hot-button topic in many circles in recent years. State and federal highway safety officials have promoted various more stringent controls on distracted driving nationwide, hoping to reduce the number of traffic accidents that may be linked to distractions. Cellphone and other electronic device use in motor vehicles have been under fire for years.

Authorities say that distraction may have been involved in a fatal pedestrian accident in Mendon, Massachusetts shortly after noon on Wednesday. Police say that an 18-year-old woman involved in the crash says that she was not familiar with the area in which she was driving and looked away from the road to fiddle with her GPS positioning device.

Unfortunately, a Rhode Island man had parked his pickup truck and boat trailer along the same Medon road near a marine and auto business. The 56-year-old man reportedly was walking alongside the truck and boat trailer when he was struck by the vehicle driven by the 18-year-old woman while she was adjusting her GPS device, according to police.

The accident victim suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. The young woman reportedly is expected to face charges of vehicular homicide and other offenses after the fatal accident, although she was not placed under arrest after the incident.

Notably, criminal charges after a traffic accident are an issue for state authorities. The interests involved in a criminal case differ from those that may be available in a separate civil proceeding. Accident victims, or the families of a victim in a fatal accident, may be able to seek justice in civil court, even when the state seeks a criminal charge.

Source: Boston Herald, "GPS distraction blamed for Mendon pedestrian death," The Associated Press, June 13, 2013