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PAYNES CREEK, Ca.    A 37 year-old woman ran off Manton Road at 9:20 a.m. yesterday with her 6 month-old daughter in the back seat.  The car drifted off the shoulder while the driver was talking on her cell phone.  She then overcorrected, lost control and eventually landed in a ditch.  The driver suffered a broken left arm.  Fortunately, the infant was not injured.

    This crash which occurred several miles northeast of Red Bluff in Tehama County highlights the dangers of driving while talking on a cell phone, even in rural areas where traffic is not an issue.  Paying attention to the phone conversation takes attention away from the roadway.  This is one reason that the law will change in California in July, restricting the use of cell phones to “hands free” devices.

    This crash follows a recent pattern of crashes in the Northern California area where cell phones played a major role in catastrophe.  On August 13, 2007, a mother of four was killed when stopped at a construction site on State Route 44 west of Shingletown.  Another woman was proceeding behind her at approximately 50 mph texting Verizon for her account information when she slammed into the stopped vehicle.  The stopped car burst into flames, killing the woman.

    On December 6, 2007, a young teenaged driver proceeding northbound on Hilltop Dr. in Redding on a rainy dark night, veered directly into the path of a southbound vehicle.  A catastrophic head-on collision ensued.  The culprit – the teenager’s cell phone.  When questioned by the investigating officer, the young driver did not know that he had even crossed over the double line into oncoming traffic.

    For more information about California’s changing cell phone law, see our blog.

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