Blame the water bottle? Distracted driving reminder, police on lookout

A vehicle ran off Red Hills Parkway after driver attempts to grab fallen water bottle, St. George, Utah, June 18, 2014 | Photo courtesy of the St. George Police Department, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Distracted driving comes in many forms and doesn’t always end well for the distracted driver and others sometimes caught in that driver’s path. Fortunately, a driver who went off the road Wednesday after reaching for a water bottle wasn’t harmed, and no other vehicles or persons were involved, St. George Police reported.

“On June 18, 2014, an SUV traveling west on Red Hills Parkway and crossed the median near 200 East into oncoming traffic and crashed into a ditch on the side of the road,” St. George Police said in a statement issued Thursday. “The driver of the SUV became distracted when they reached for a dropped water bottle. Fortunately there were no other vehicle involved and no reported injuries.  The driver was cited for careless driving.”

Distracted driving is often attributed to the use of handheld electronic devices like mobile phones. As Wednesday’s crash shows, that isn’t always the case. A similar crash occurred in St. George on 2930 East on June 8.

One of the worst cases of distracted driving reported in Southern Utah occurred last year, when David and Leslee Henson were hit by a car that had been rear-ended by an alleged distracted driver. David Henson was killed and Leslee Henson was severely injured. In the wake of the tragedy, the Henson family launched a massive awareness campaign against distracted driving.

Distraction comes in many different forms,” St. George Police Sgt. Sam Despain said. “It’s just not cell phones.”

Recently the Utah Legislature passed tighter laws against distracted driving, albeit largely aimed at mobile phone use while driving. Laws against careless driving already existed in the state.

Thanks to the new law, officers are actively looking for distracted drivers. Those drivers police catch in the act may likely finds themselves getting a ticket. One driver, who had both hands on her phone and texting while steering her vehicle with the palm of her hand, was seen by Despain this morning while driving to work. That driver ended up being the recipient of a citation.

“Focus on your driving,” Despain said.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.


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  • SSfreeze June 19, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Another case of Water Bottle? I seriously doubt it, put down the phones people!

  • Jen Lindley June 21, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    I’m so glad to see that police are actually enforcing the new anti-texting law. It’s been at least a week since I’ve seen a Utard swerving lanes, breaking irradically, running stop signs or lights and cutting other people off because they were texting and driving.

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