HAMILTON — Investigators say a Milford Twp. crash that claimed the lives of two teenagers may have been the result driver inattention caused by cell phone texting, according to Butler County Sheriff’s detectives.
After reviewing a number of factors surrounding the crash, it appears to the investigators that the driver, 17-year-old Miranda Lane, was texting on her cell phone in very close proximity to the actual time of the May 3 crash. Lane and her 17-year-old passenger Mathilde Jessen were both killed in the crash.
This crash and investigation come at a time when Ohio lawmakers are considering legislation that would ban all texting while driving and prohibit teen drivers from using any handheld electronic devices.
In a traffic bulletin issued this spring, the Ohio Highway Patrol reported that driver inattention caused 31,231 crashes across Ohio during the past three years, including 74 fatal crashes and 7,825 injury crashes.
Between 2009 and 2011, 2,723 of those crashes occurred in central Ohio, according to numbers compiled by the Department of Public Safety.
Lane, of Colerain Twp. in Hamilton County was driving a Honda Civic at about 4:15 p.m. eastbound on Ohio 73 when she pulled directly into the path of a semi tractor trailer traveling south on U.S. 127, according to deputies.
The semi driver was uninjured in the crash. A driver of a third vehicle that became involved in the crash was transported to University Hospital for treatment of what appeared to be minor injuries.
“It’s a very sad tragedy,” said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones. “Two young people are gone.”
The sheriff said an investigation of Lake’s cell phone records indicates there is a 45 second pause between her last text and the first 911 call to dispatchers.
Jones said no matter what the age, a driver is distracted if they are talking or texting on a cell phone while driving. While he understands the intent behind a law that would ban handle held devices, the sheriff said enforcement would be a nightmare.
“It may be needed, but I don’t think it is enforceable,” Jones said, noting it is difficult to determine with some phones if a person is making a call or texting.
He added even with hands free devices, drivers are not giving the road their full attention if they are carrying on a conversation.
The crash still remains under investigation, as results of various toxicology and other tests are still pending.
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