A motorcyclist's fatality earlier this year has been the center of a police investigation by New Mexican authorities. The largest power outage in New Mexico's history occurred the night of the fatal accident, and although leaving low light conditions on New Mexico's roads, this is no excuse for distracted driving behaviors. The woman facing charges in the motorcyclist's death told authorities she was texting and driving at the time of the accident, which has prompted an investigation into her phone records. Although the woman was a distracted driver at the time of the collision, it was proven she wasn't texting and driving at the moment of impact.
This does not shield the woman from further prosecution, however. She has officially been charged with vehicular homicide, reckless driving and careless driving. The power outage caused intersections around New Mexico to go down to a blinking red light. This, of course, means all intersections become a four-way stop. According to testimony of the accused, she was distracted in the moments leading up to the crash. She was also unsure about how to proceed through the intersection.
In that moment, she looked away from the road and struck the motorcyclist and then proceeded to run him over with her vehicle, which ultimately caused his death. The accused woman admits to texting and driving in the minutes leading up to the accident.
Texting and driving laws are very specific in that, the person accused of the behavior must have been using their mobile device at the moment of the motorcycle crash. In this case, because the woman's phone records prove that she had technically put her phone down at the moment of impact, the state is not prosecuting this crime as such.
According to reports, the motorcyclist had just moved from the center lane he was traveling to the left lane where he was struck just prior to the accident. Had the power outage not left people confused, would the incident have still occurred? What if the woman had been operating her vehicle safely? These are the questions that the victim's family likely asks themselves during this difficult time of loss.
Source: santafenewmexican.com, "Police: Driver wasn't texting during fatal crash," Uriel Garcia, Nov. 8, 2016