A driver allegedly talking on a cell phone when she killed two bicyclists in South Carolina has agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit over one of the deaths, reports The State in Columbia, S.C. A jury trial in the death of the second bicyclist is to start this week. The case embodies the rising anxiety over people’s use of cell phones and texting devices while driving.
Last week, King, 36, pleaded guilty to the criminal charge of reckless driving in the deaths. Cell phone driving “is the new DUI,” argued lawyer Dick Harpootlian in pretrial arguments in the bicycle case. States are passing laws to restrict drivers’ cell phone use. Scientific evidence is mounting that talking or texting while driving can be a deadly distraction – far more so than talking to a live passenger in a car or even eating. Research shows cell phone use during driving uses the portions of the brain devoted to controlling visual, thinking, and physical processes.