A Colorado woman has been awarded $7.2 million after barely surviving a Greyhound bus rollover accident, which was allegedly caused by the driver using his cell phone while operating the bus on an icy road.
The complaint was filed by Ashley Reedy, who suffered head, neck and back injuries as a passenger on a Greyhound bus in December 2007.
According to the accident lawsuit, the driver lost control of the vehicle as he approached another collision on Interstate 40 in Wheeler County, Texas. Reedy sued both the driver, Rashad Armand Nichols, and Greyhound.
Nichols alleged that the driver was on a cell phone while trying to navigate the icy road. The driver lost control when he hit the brakes and the bus rolled over. A review of the driver’s cell phone logs indicated that he had used his phone 17 times during the three hours before the accident.
Following trial last month, a Dallas jury found both Greyhound and Nichols grossly negligent in the accident and awarded Reedy $2.2 million in compensatory damages and $4.8 million in punitive damages, which are rare in auto accident lawsuits.
Distracted driving has become a leading cause of auto injuries and road fatalities, accounting for 28% of all auto accidents, according to a 2010 report by the National Safety Council. Many of those distractions came from electronic devices such as cell phones.
One recent study found that the risks of an accident while talking on a cell phone, even one that is hands-free, are the same as driving drunk.
A growing number of states have passed distracted driving laws banning the use of cell phones and texting while driving while in traffic. Some federal agencies and officials have recently called for an outright national ban on the use of portable electronic devices in vehicles, even if they are hands-free.