Archive for Thursday, July 31, 2008

Report indicates driver in wreck that killed sheriff’s deputy was distracted by cell phone

A Kansas Highway Patrol report says the driver of a car involved in a fatal bicycle accident was distracted by a cell phone.

July 31, 2008


The driver of a car that struck and killed a Douglas County sheriff's deputy on his bicycle was distracted by a cell phone and other electronic devices during the accident, a Kansas Highway Patrol report said.

The report indicates that inattention and failure to yield the right-of-way by the 20-year-old driver were contributing circumstances in the wreck.

Lt. David K. Dillon, 44, a deputy for the jail operations division of the sheriff's office, was off-duty and riding his bicycle shortly before 8 a.m. June 28 in the 1900 block of North 1400 Road, just one mile west of Eudora.

According to the highway patrol, Dillon was riding west on the road when the driver of a 2003 Oldsmobile struck him from behind, causing Dillon to be thrown into the north ditch of the road. The driver was identified as Kyle William Van Meter.

The accident caused the right front tire of the car to be flattened from impact with the bicycle, the report said. The seat of the bike was found under Dillon's body.

The report indicates there were scattered showers in the area, but visibility was not obstructed on the straight and level road.

On June 30, the patrol said toxicology results were pending and phone records were being obtained as a part of the investigation. An update on the investigation has not been provided since then, despite multiple requests to the agency, which worked the case at the request of the sheriff's office.


Rationalanimal 9 years, 8 months ago

Here comes another law. Let's cut to the chase and pass a law requiring all people, everywhere of every color, nationality, religion and sexual orientation to pay attention at all times. That should dispatch the need for yet another nanny law.In the meantime, throw the kid in jail, he obviously deserves the death penalty for being as stupid and inattentive as most 20 year olds. But, by all means, let a rapist out on a procedural technicality so we all feel better inside.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

Bans in places such as New York, which became the first state to ban cell phone use by motorists four years ago, still allowed for hands-free devices. But recent research has shown that hands-free cell phones can be just as distracting.Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said research in Australia backed up claims that people using cell phones while driving were four times more likely to be in an injury accident, regardless of whether they were using a hands-free device."I think, initially, people assumed that the problem with using a cell phone while driving was the holding of the phone and the dialing of the phone," Rader said. "But now the body of research is suggesting that the conversation itself is the major distraction."John Taylor, a spokesman for Sprint Nextel Corp., said it would be appropriate public policy if all distractions were included in the ordinance. "If you pass a ban that just prohibits the hand-held devices, you're sending a message that the hands-free devices are safe," said Paul Atchley, associate professor of psychology at the University of Kansas. "And that is false."

Munsoned 9 years, 8 months ago

Consumer1-- I love it! Are you also the one who talks really loudly on the phone in public places? I will definitely yield to ya!!!

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

If drivers are involved in a serious argument or some other intense discussion on cell phone it is considered substantially distracting.Listening to the radio is not a matter that requires the same attention level as phone conversation. Face it one hand on the wheel while conversing on a phone is not sufficient if needing to respond quickly. Some drivers in Lawrence cannot sufficiently navigate turning a corner with pedestrians in a cross walk while cell phoning .... they do not seem to realize people are crossing the street.

jonas 9 years, 8 months ago

confrontation: I'm about the same. Just curious to see how far you thought it should go.

Evan Ridenour 9 years, 8 months ago

After all the statistical evidence that has been gathered showing the dangers of driving while talking on a cell phone how has it not yet been banned? At the very least ban talking without a hands free device...I've almost been hit multiple times while running by drivers on cell phones running stop signs, not even bothering to look to see if there is a pedistrian already in the intersection. I've been run off the road by an SUV driven by a woman talking on her cell phone who merged into my lane without bothering to look and see if anything was already in it. I am sure everyone in town has these stories and as I mentioned earlier in my post... there are tons of studies showing the danger... this habit of talking while driving puts other peoples lives in danger.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 9 years, 8 months ago

P.S. Also what charges were filed against the driver that killed the deputy sheriff? Thank you, Lynn

Paul R Getto 9 years, 8 months ago

"Should be double super secret against the law? What this driver did is already illegal. It is called inattentive driving. We do not need new laws, just enforcement of our existing laws."====I agree, but when I asked was told they repealed the the law on inattentive driving; the standard is now "reckless" which is much higher. It's likely to get worse as more and more technology will be added to new cars.

Bob Forer 9 years, 8 months ago

You are right, countrygirl. There is probably not a whole lot of danger in receiving a phone call, especially when you have a hands free set. But those darn cell phones are so small, both in the keypads and the lettering, to require an inordinate mount of attention to manipulate while driving.

nekansan 9 years, 8 months ago

Should be double super secret against the law? What this driver did is ALREADY ILLEGAL. It is called inattentive driving. We do not need new laws, just enforcement of our existing laws.

Bob Forer 9 years, 8 months ago

Well said, confrontation. While some of us may be a bit better or worse than others at multi-tasking, the fact remains that none of us are completely attentive when using a cell phone while driving. And I have to admit that I have from time to time tried to dial a phone number on my cell while driving. Very difficult, and stupid on my part. This tragic death has taught me a lesson. No more. I hope all readers will reevaluate their driving habits.

lawrencian 9 years, 8 months ago

Doesn't "inattentive driving" = involuntary vehicular manslaughter, at the least?

countrygirl 9 years, 8 months ago

I was headed to KC one morning on K-10 and came up behind a car that was all over the road. I finally got a chance to pass him and wasted no time in doing so. When I checked my mirror as I was pulling back into the right lane I realized I couldn't see the driver because there was a newspaper spread across the entire windshield! I kept my foot in the gas until I had some distance between me and him/her--or whatever was driving that car.

jonas 9 years, 8 months ago

countrygirl: Man that's nothing. When I was driving the city bus (which gives a higher view) I looked into one guys car briefly as I was driving and saw that he was typing onto his laptop that was open and propped up on his dash. Needless to say, I was happy for my next mandatory turn. confrontation: Out of curiosity, would the ban extend to hands-free devices, or should that be an exception?

vigil05 9 years, 8 months ago

But if the police use cellphones when they drive. Wouldn't it become a case of the 'pot calling the kettle black'?Studies have to be conducted by Independent groups. IMO, Universities are in the best position to do so.Insurance companies will probably want to find reason to raise premiums - "Cars with blue-tooth handsfree - extra $50!, or 'we see that you've had a past record of getting into a small wreck due to talking on the cellphone, therefore RAISE PREMIUMS on top of the wreck!'. Cellphone groups will probably want to find another reason other than talking on cellphone as distraction, you know play the 'blame game'.Actually, driving with one hand on the wheel isn't that bad. I think. Look at those fellas cruising down Mass st with their windows down, and music blaring - usually one hand on the wheel, and the other hand moving to the beat. :)

guesswho 9 years, 8 months ago

Even hands free sets are distracting; it is not the same as a conversation in the car, because generallly the passengers are in tune with what is going on and the conversation ebbs and flows with traffic conditions - with a cell phone/hands free; the person on the line is not aware of conditions.

fu7il3 9 years, 8 months ago

Why couldn't they enforce it? If we can see people on their cell phones, the police can too.

vigil05 9 years, 8 months ago

But it's difficult to pass such a ban (wasn't there some kind of motion to ban cellphones while driving in Lawrence some time back?)I've seen law enforcement personnel talking on cellphones while cruising in their patrol cars - even they're doing it - if they're doing it, how can we expect our citizens to not use their cellphones while driving?I hope we all learn to make wiser decisions when we drive. There is too much at stake, and it's tragic that we need an incident such as this to remind us of the dangers of talking on the cellphone while driving.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 9 years, 8 months ago

Why do they not respond after multiple requests? I do not like that, they work for us, we pay their salaries. This is a matter of public record and they are apparently trying to make it not so. They need to refresh themselves on the Kansas open record law. Thank you, Lynn

Kontum1972 9 years, 8 months ago

it will never happen the ACLU will get involved....if they already havent been contacted....and the car makers keep adding all that extra electronic gadgets...

Yabut 9 years, 8 months ago

So basically, in areas where cell phones are banned, you're safe using your cell unless a cop is around. I mean, it's not like anyone can hop on their cell and report you, right? =)On a more serious note, nor can they report reckless/drunk driving, accidents, hit and runs, etc. without pulling over. So much for following suspects while on the phone with 911....

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

Cell phone use while driving is comparable to DUI due to the distraction factor according to some studies. KU has done a study on this matter which also presented some data to the city.The person who initiated a ban on cell phone use while driving in Lawrence has since passed away. Someone new will need to contact the traffic safety engineer if this is a serious concern to citizens. David Woosley, Traffic Engineer. Phone: 832.3034Email: dwoosley@ci.lawrence.ks.usApplying make up,shaving and reading while driving are other problems as well. There is an irresponsible driving law on the books that could be applied to these situations and cell phone use. Cyclists also cell phone talk while riding. I do believe the City of Lawrence policy forbids cell phone use while in a city vehicle. Law enforcement and emergency staff are exempt . If the only drivers allowed would be these selected few that would reduce risks substantially.Cell Phone Bans:

fu7il3 9 years, 8 months ago

"But if the police use cellphones when they drive. Wouldn't it become a case of the 'pot calling the kettle black'?"I'm guessing they wouldn't use them while driving if they were illegal, so it wouldn't be an issue.

mom_of_three 9 years, 8 months ago

I accept calls while driving, but I usually put them on speaker. Same for calls I make, except I wait for a red light to dial, if I can't wait to arrive at my destination. DO NOT DIAL while driving. texting - you have got to be kidding....i am not that coordinated....

kujhawkfan 9 years, 8 months ago

Don't put all the blame on cell phones when there are numerous distractions that are known to cause wrecks. I have seen wrecks cause by people changing the radio station, putting in a CD, reaching in the glove box, lighting a cigarette, dropping a cigarette, eating food while driving. If there is a ban on cell phones while driving then we need to ban smoking and eating also. I have no problem with requiring a hands free device but banning cell phones when there are numerous other distractions is ridiculous.

vigil05 9 years, 8 months ago

The California law only bans hand-held units, if you're on hands free, you're A-Ok (unless you're under the age of 18). I believe quite a some states have already adopted a hands-free only law (NY & NJ were the first 2). It'll be interesting to see if this leads to a decrease in cell-phone related accidents, or an increment because drivers become more complacent. Time and time again, it's been argued (and i agree with this argument), that the problem is not with the driver holding the phone in his/her hand. The problem lies in engaging in a cell phone conversation, which draws attention away from the road.

Bob Forer 9 years, 8 months ago

To answer your question, Lawrencian, the law views "inattentive" driving as "simple" negligence, which most jurisdictions, including Kansas, do not view as sufficiently serious to warrant criminal chages if one seriously harms or or kills another while driving inattentively. Typically, gross or wanton negligence is required for criminal charges to attach, e.g., reckless driving.

Confrontation 9 years, 8 months ago

Jonas, I know that there are many people who disagree on that topic. In my opinion, hands-free devices are similar to listening to the radio (especially if you have voice-activated controls). Holding the cell to your ear is completely different. It creats an additional blind spot, takes one hand off the wheel, and causes distractions as the person tries to dial, answer, or find it.

countrygirl 9 years, 8 months ago

Talking while driving is one thing---texting while driving is another.

Confrontation 9 years, 8 months ago

There has to be a ban on cell phone use while driving. Anyone who denies that drivers are distracted while holding their cells is a complete liar. You can see it every day when you drive around town or on the highway. No one is immune to this. Wait until you get home or pull your car over if you need to talk. Idiots.

fu7il3 9 years, 8 months ago

People are on their cell phones too much period. What did you all do before you could walk around everywhere with a cell phone stuck to your face?I bought a new cell phone a couple of days ago and the salesperson looked at me like I was an alien when I wanted 500 minutes to share between my wife and I, no texting, no internet, no GPS.

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 8 months ago

fyi: an Australian study showed that there was no difference between hands-on and hands-free cell phone use with regards to having auto accidents...use of either showed the same increase in the likelihood of drivers having's all about a person's attention...

Aisling 9 years, 8 months ago

bwahahaha logic---that was funny. Now you'll have to excuse me as I wipe Mt. Dew off my keyboard.

whoswho 9 years, 8 months ago

It really is weird how everyone speaks on this topic. Because if we all look around us...guess what we find? CELL PHONES!!! Almost everyone has one these days. Hello we are in the year 2008 not 1979. It seems this day in age everyone drives with a cell either linked to there ear or in there hand. If you dont then good for you. But the man who has to live with this in his mind everyday I feel really bad for. And the family of the other. So it is a lose lose. Almost every parent has a teen or older who drive while texting or on there phone. That is why parents need to go the extra mile to keep there kids safe, and teach them the right things. This guy is a kid he is 20yr old. And Im sure if many of you looked at yourselfs when you were 20 there are mistakes you would undo if you could. If not then my hat is off to you.

RKLOG 9 years, 8 months ago

I've been on that road, it is long and flat, and easy to see for a long distance. The fact that bicyclists (like my older brother) use that road makes me worry about future accidents there. And on N1500 as well. Using cell phones and driving is a bad idea. Obviously! I would easily vote to ban the use them with driving, if such a vote came up.

jacjac 9 years, 8 months ago

No one ever seems to want to solve the problem at the very beginning. If anyone has ever been introduced to the concept of "Europe" they might understand that it is almost as easy to obtain and keep a driver's license in the United States as it is to breathe.Let's all take a moment and try to think pro-actively instead of reactively. If every single car were outfitted with a sword-sharp metal spike jutting directly out from the middle of the steering column-- everyone would drive much more responsibly. Guaranteed. If every incorrect action has a direct, negative consequence-- incorrect actions tend to not happen. That's just using human instinct instead of millions of ineffective 'laws'.

denak 9 years, 8 months ago

I think this accident underscores two very important things. In order for our streets to be safer, people must stop1) talking on cell phones. You can't dial and talk and concentrate at the same time. I have seen it time and time again, people swerving, people driving much slower than the speed limit in order to control their cars while they are talking on the phone, people cutting in front of other cars. People just don't pay attention the way they should when they are talking on the cell.and 2) Bicyclist should not be on the road. Ride on the sidewalks or bike lanes if you have to be on the road. I kno wthe law says that bicyclists can but it is a bad law. Common sense should tell you that it is safer for the bicyclists to be on the sidewalks than on the streets.Had Mr. Dillon been in a car when he was "rear ended" he probably would have survived. Cars are equipped to protect their passsengers from inattentive bad drivers. Bicycles aren't. There is no protection when a car hits you. So, now we have a 20 year old kid, who is probably a college student, probably a decent kid possibly facing some very serious charges and a 44 year old man, who was probably a very decent guy with a family who is dead.We need to stop talking about people's "rights" and instead look at what is hazardous on the road and not allow it. Ban the cell phones and get the bicyclists on the sidewalks.Oh and why we are at it, start ticketing the h**l out of the lazy parents who don't have thier children strapped in a car seat. In fact, I would be willing to even let the bicyclists on the road, if the police would ticket and fine the parents out the waazooo, for not having their kids in booster and car seats. Dena:0)

larrylee 9 years, 8 months ago

I guess this is typical behavior... Now we blame the victim because he was riding his bike where there were no sidewalks or a marked bike lane. WOW. At least with a Bluetooth headset they can be set to automatically answer the phone so there are no buttons to push on the phone.Unfortunately, I have personal experience with a member of my family who recently totalled her car. As she was driving home on K-10, it seems she was texting someone rather madly and she changed lanes because the car in front was going too slow. Imagine my surprise when she said she didn't see the car in the other lane and fortunately there was no personal injury and not much damage to the other car. She can't say the same for her car as now she has to borrow a car to drive. It is also a constant fight regarding texting while driving. Thankfully my car is a stick shift and she cannot drive it.Someone has already said it here but I will repeat it. We need for law enforcement to become more aggressive about this type of behavior. Only then will people get the hint. A very big hint could be made just trolling K-10 between I-435 & Lawrence.

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