McLeod County Man Says Antiquated Laws Don’t Deter Distracted Driving 09 Nov 17

(KSTP/McLeod County, MN)  A McLeod County man whose wife was killed by a distracted driver says the state’s “antiquated laws” must change to make cell phone distractions carry the same weight as alcohol or drugs when it comes to deadly crashes.

Ryan Verdeck tells KSTP, “It was a misdemeanor to kill my wife and that doesn’t sit well with my family.”

Verdeck’s wife Penny was struck and killed while riding her bike along County Road 3 in Glencoe in April of 2015.

The driver, Emily Givens, was charged with criminal vehicular homicide – a felony. But she was convicted of careless driving – a misdemeanor.

The exact number of distracted driving deaths related to cell phones in Minnesota is unknown because the Department of Public Safety only started tracking cell phone use as a distraction last year.

But Givens’ case, along with more recent distracted-driving deaths, highlight a gap in the state law, according to Michael Junge, the McLeod County Attorney.

In Minnesota, alcohol and drugs are considered aggravating factors in criminal vehicular homicide cases. Cell phone use is not. Therefore prosecutors must prove drivers like Givens, who caused deadly wrecks, acted with gross negligence – a much higher standard, and one more difficult to prove.

Ryan Verdeck, who is now raising two teenage daughters, hopes his wife’s death will convince lawmakers to strengthen the law when they return to the capitol next year.  

  • http://fleetmode.com Fleet Mode

    Texting is not just a “teen” problem. There are millions of employees in company cars and fleet vehicles who try to “multi-task” behind the wheel.

    While many states seek to lower distracted driving by increasing penalties, fees and regulations, there is another option. There are anti-texting apps, like AT&T DriveMode which is FREE!

    One area that is rarely discussed is that each state has thousands of government vehicles that inspectors, regulators and the agricultural department use as fleet vehicles, but they do not have the technology to diminish distracted driving. I would love to see one state lead by example and use a program, like FleetMode, to block texts, redirect incoming phone calls, and impede all other apps in the State vehicles. If we want our state roads to be safer, let’s start by making our state vehicles safer.

  • http://www.fleetmode.com Robert Fleetmode

    Texting is not just a “teen” problem. There are millions of employees in company cars and fleet vehicles who try to “multi-task” behind the wheel.

    While many states seek to lower distracted driving by increasing penalties, fees and regulations, there is another option. There are anti-texting apps, like AT&T DriveMode which is FREE!

    One area that is rarely discussed is that Minnesota has thousands of government vehicles that inspectors, regulators and the agricultural department use as fleet vehicles, but they do not have the technology to diminish distracted driving. I would love to see one state lead by example and use a program, like FleetMode, to block texts, redirect incoming phone calls, and impede all other apps in the State vehicles. If we want our state roads to be safer, let’s start by making our state vehicles safer.