EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


September 20, 2012

Coakley, Blodgett drive home message about texting and driving

BEVERLY - Beverly High School students sat silently as they watched a video showing a shaken trooper from the Missouri Highway Patrol describe the scene of a fatal accident where a teenage driver was killed while sending a text message.

The movie flashes to pictures of the girl’s mangled car, and the trooper saying he will never forget noticing her cap and gown on the passenger seat next to her.

“She was going to graduate the next day,” the trooper says. “It was a horrific scene all because of a senseless text.”

The movie, called “The Last Text,” is part of an anti-texting campaign launched by AT&T in 2010 aimed at convincing young drivers not to text and drive. The telecommunications giant has representatives traveling to high schools around the country to hammer home the message, “It can wait.”

Yesterday, AT&T New England President Patricia

Jacobs joined Attorney General Martha Coakley and Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett to convince teen drivers not to text and drive. Blodgett - who this spring prosecuted the state’s first motor vehicle homicide case attributed to texting - said he visits high schools all over Essex County to convince teens of the dangers.

This week also marks the second anniversary of the state law banning texting while driving.

The law bans the act of sending or receiving mobile phone text messages while operating a vehicle. The law also prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using a mobile phone in any way while operating a motor vehicle. The law also allows police to pull over drivers if they suspect them of texting, without needing another suspected offense.

Blodgett talked about another high school senior, Haverhill teen Aaron Deveau, 17, who is serving a prison sentence for killing a 56-year-old father of three during an accident caused by Deaveu’s texting in February of last year. Deveau was the first person in Massachusetts prosecuted under the state’s new texting law.

In June, “at a time when he should have been thinking about senior prom and graduation,” Deveau was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison for motor vehicle homicide and two years on the texting and causing injury c

harge, with one year served concurrently, Blodgett said.

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