Fatal Car Accident, Driver Possibly Texting

(KATV){}A Sherwood man was killed in a car accident Tuesday night. Police say he was likely texting while driving. The accident happened at about 10 p.m. at the 9000 block of Batesville Pike in North Little Rock.

Investigators are confident texting and driving lead to 23-year old Joe Smith's death. His text history showed an on-going conversation and his last text was half written, never sent.

Batesville Pike, near the North Little Rock airport isn't lit at night, it's narrow, winding and there isn't a shoulder to pull over on. In fact there is a warning sign as you turn on to the road. It's a dangerous road to be distracted on.

Sgt. Brian Dedrick with the North Little Rock police department, "Smith crossed over into the south bound lane, he was traveling north and it appeared he tried to over correct and at that point it was too late and he hit the tree."

Smith died on the scene. The speed limit is 45. Pieces of his Cavalier, clothing and signs of first responders on the scene remain.

Sgt. Dedrick adds, "The problem seems to be so out of hand. I drive an unmarked police car and literally I see dozens of people everyday driving or looking down texting."

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, using a cell phone can delay your reaction time as if you had a blood alcohol level of about 0.08, that's about 4-beers.

"It's devastating for the family. We do not like to respond to tragedies, especially on something that could have been prevented by not texting. It is really heartbreaking for this to happen to such a young man."

Smith was not wearing a seat belt.

Sgt. Dedrick says looking down a few seconds, driving 40 miles an hour you drive about the length of a football field. Imagine how many people do that around you every day.

The North Little Rock Police Department doesn't have an exact count of how many accidents are caused by texting. They work so many accidents a day, they check into texting if someone is injured, dies or wants an investigation. If there are no injures and texting is confirmed - it's a fine. It increases to a felony if you hurt someone.

Texting and Driving Law in Arkansas:

Texting is banned for all drivers in the state (except for an emergency) and using a handheld phone is banned for people 18-20.

Like with the seat belt law, texting while driving is the only reason an officer needs to pull you over. It's a primary law. Sgt. Dedrick says it is easy to assume someone is holding or looking at a phone and texting so it can be hard for officers to make the call because they have to see it happening.

If you're pulled over it is a fine. If you injure or kill someone it goes up to a felony.

A violation of the law is a primary offense; that means it can be the only reason to be pulled over. Offenders can face fines up to $100.




(KATV, Source: North Little Rock Police) Tuesday night, just before 10:00 pm, North Little Rock officers responded to a possible one car, fatality accident at 9000 Batesville Pike.{}

Officers arrived and discovered a single car accident involving a Chevy Cavalier.{} The driver of the vehicle, identified as Joe Smith, 23, of Sherwood, was pronounced dead at the scene.{}

A preliminary investigation indicates the Chevy was traveling northbound on Batesville Pike.{} The Vehicle crossed the center line and left the roadway on the West side striking a tree. It appears that Smith was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. {}

The preliminary investigation indicates that Smith was possibly texting while driving which possibly led to this accident.{}